Making Positive Change Happen in 2021!
On a societal and global level, COVID-19 has made this year a difficult one in so many ways. Worldwide, close to 1.7 million people have died, and close to 80,000,000 people have become sick with the virus. Statistics on COVID-19 are also imperfect given testing limitations and the lack of consideration of those who may have it but are asymptomatic, so the number of cases is likely higher. And the virus has impacted us all individually in so many profound ways – how we work, how we go to school, how we socialize, how we have fun or vacation, how we celebrate holidays and how we feel. There is no denying that this has been an emotionally exhausting year, and for many, perhaps the worst year ever.
As a psychologist in private practice, the topic of COVID-19 and its impact has come up in my work in various ways with patients all year, with self-care being a main area of concern. Understandably, it is hard to take care of yourself with all of the adjustments and changes we have had to manage, but it is important to try. One approach to improve self-care and wellness is to eliminate something bad in your life and to replace it with something better…and to make that something a habit.
Research on habit formation has shown that achieving a goal takes practice and repetition, where eventually the goal becomes less important and the new behavior becomes an acquired habit. For example, if you watch too much TV and want to get in shape physically, you may have the goal of going to gym every day, which will probably take great effort initially. However, after consistently going daily for a few months, working out will become automatic or second nature. Is it because you are more in shape? Is it because your spouse tells you that you look better? Is it because you have more energy? Is it because you are 2 belt holes thinner? Is it because you feel a sense of pride and accomplishment? It is all of those things inasmuch as putting the TV remote down and throwing yourself into something new, created an unfolding process of change.
So, as we enter 2021, I invite you to think about one thing that you would like to change about yourself and one thing that you plan to do to replace that behavior in the coming year. Here are a few things to consider: