I get up, I get down,
And I'm jumping around
And the rumpus and ruckus are comfortable now
Been a hell of a ride, but I'm thinking it's time to go
Bang! Bang! Bang!
- AJR, "Bang!"
Ah yes, 2020. None of us had 20/20 vision after all, did we?
Some people missed their senior year of high school (siiigh ...), some people graduated online, some people got married, some people had children, and some people lost loved ones ... although we know it's for the best we can't help but feel a twinge (or a lot) of sadness, and that's ok.
Regardless of whatever you think, the fact still remains that 2020 was one heck of a year. From a worldwide pandemic to protests, fires, and memes (so many memes) a lot has happened. And it's all come to an end! Obviously when the clock strikes 12 nothing will change with a snap of a finger, but it feels good.
What feels good? That we made it. We survived, we made out alive, and we're here. You're here. And that's awesome!
With the new year on the horizon, it's around the time people start drafting up their "New Year's Resolutions." Regardless of whether or not you set resolutions for yourself, there are a few things we should all put in mind.
It's not even necessary to have these things down by the new year. Start today. If you forget, start when you do remember, whether it be February, April, or July. Changing yourself for the better you has no set time, so start when you can!
1. Take Care of Your Health Sleep, exercise, and food - just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to defining "healthy".
An important aspect of daily life is working out, whether you want to knock off a few layers of fat, build muscle, or none of the above. Exercise not only improves circulation and oxygen intake, but it also improves your sleep quality and improves your mental health.
Sleep - it's extremely important. It simply is charging you for the next day. The richest hours of the night are from 11 pm-3 am, so try to program your day around these hours. Teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep per night, while adults can run on 6-8 hours.
Concerning food, try and eliminate unhealthy foods from your diet gradually. You can try by allowing yourself an unhealthy meal or snack once a day, then every other day, then twice or once a week. Again - food isn't about losing weight; it's about building the body that will carry you for the rest of your life.
You can find out more about and adjust the lifestyle that suits you most, but being healthy is a way of life rather than a limited-time diet.
2. Kill Them With Kindness
Being kind is really important. Try to spread joy and kindness; God knows how much we need it! Not only can you earn rewards from Allah, but you also make people's day.
Get used to helping someone if they need it, in the mall or on your way home. Keep in mind to give compliments to people. If you like the scarf that the girl is wearing on your way to class, tell her. If you like the bag that little boy is carrying, tell him. You never know the massive effect it might have, and all it takes from you is a "Hey! I love your shoes, by the way! Have a good day!"
Another aspect of being kind is being "the bigger person". No, if you've been wronged badly, I'm not saying you should always walk away from an argument. Alternatively, you can reply with composure and logic - even if they scream at you, when you eventually walk away, you'll be satisfied with your stability - and peeve the other person by being so collected. Not only is it so much mentally healthier for you, but it also shows you won.
This manifests in endless forms and examples, but the general rule is the same: be kind.
3. Stay in Touch With Your Family
There's a reason the Prophet [PBUH] said keeping in touch with your family has such a humungous award - because it's so, so hard. However, in the end, nobody's got your back like your family. Try visiting them every month or two - hey, you can even FaceTime or Zoom call them! Whether it's a small-talk or an actual conversation, keeping in touch is very important.
Staying connected to the family you live with is just as important. Sure, your sister lives in the room literally down the hall, but how many times do you guys sit together and just ... talk? Ideas to connect with your family are movie and game nights, picnics or Saturday brunches, or finding a common hobby you and one or more family members can do together. Hanging out with the members of your family gets you closer, and in turn, makes you happier as a person living in the same house as them.
4. Set goals.
What do you want to achieve this month? This week? Today? Setting short- and long-term goals is important to getting things done. Write them down on a bulletin board, in a notebook, or in a reminder/to-do app; whichever way that suits your style more. The more specified they are, the easier it is to finish them.
Divided by days, weeks, or months, your goals should be accurate and achievable. Instead of saying you want to read 4 books by the end of the week to get yourself into books, try going with finishing one book in four days instead. Don't pressure yourself! After all, the person setting the deadlines is you. Work at your own pace.
5. Be an optimist.
A thing so many people around me do is complain. About what? Everything. The economy, the weather, homework, our city, their clothes, lunch ... dare I continue?
My issue here is not with improvement - of course not, improvement is good! But we can try and learn to see the good side of things. Under pressure? Take a deep breath and arrange your time. Got a problem? Sit down and think it through. Things get bad, and sometimes you screw up, but that doesn't mean it's all bad. Having a breakdown is ok, so long as you get back up and show those deadlines who's in charge. (Hint: it's you, not them.) Staying optimistic helps reduce the stress and anxiety you impose on yourself!
My general rule is this: if I'm put in a situation I don't like, I'll try my best to get out of it. If I can't get out of it, then I'll get it done with the best attitude I can. I'm forced to go through this anyway and time will pass either way - would I rather finish it with less stress and more optimism? Or would I rather complain and frown and make the whole thing worse for myself?
Face life with a smile, even if it's fake. As the saying goes, fake it 'till you make it!
6. Spend Time on Yourself
Take some time off to relax. My therapist once told me that I should have at least 10 minutes of time for myself every day.
The definition of "self-time" here is important. "Me-time" is the time you spend to do something you want to do. It can be drawing, reading a book or Quran, praying two rak'aas, going for a walk, taking a nap, or even just staring at the wall.
We all need a little downtime every once in a while, and taking time off every day - even if for a moment - makes sure you don't over-exhaust yourself and eventually burnout. As an adult or a teenager, we all face some source of stress; work, school, family ... taking time for yourself makes you feel better, and in turn, you are able to perform better and give others what they need and get things done.
7. Make Your Resolutions Your Own
What I listed in this blog post are things most of us can relate to and can do, but do make your resolutions your own! Bad habit? Procrastinating? Toxic people? Whatever it is, customize it to your liking - taking the first step is already you on your way to good change.
The pointers above are general because I didn't want to make the post too long, but do take them as a takeoff point. Looking up the points you feel that could improve in you or you want elaboration on is easy on any platform - there are many people out there who'd love to help and give amazing advice and tips on how to get where you want to, how you want to.
Change begins when you decide to, so get out there and make 2021 your year, and every year after that. Why? Because you can!
What are the resolutions (or goals) you want to set for yourself this year? Share them in the comments below - and find out if anybody else is too! We can build each other up and motivate each other to be the best we can be.