Don’t get me wrong. I love a good spa day. I have a six part pm skin care routine. But sometimes you need more than a bubble bath and a pedicure to help you feel whole again.

This year has been tough on everyone and we’re all dealing with stress in different ways. It can be tough to even notice how deeply 2020 has impacted you, until you find yourself binging leftover Halloween candy and crying while watching Planet Earth. Who am I kidding? I would do that anyway…

It’s more important than ever that we give ourselves the space to process and let go of the stress we’ve experienced over the past year. And I’m not sure a shopping spree is going to cut it.

So what can you do to keep tabs on your mental health and start 2021 off on the right foot?

Guided Journaling

Journaling can be an amazing tool for connecting with yourself and seeing how you’re feeling. Free journaling is the practice of writing whatever comes to mind. You take your inner voice and put it on the page. This is great for knowing what’s on your mind from day to day and can give you an idea of your emotional state.

Guided journaling is when you use a prompt to dive deeper on something in particular. Guided journaling can bring you clarity on a specific topic. It can be very effective in assessing what you want from life, how you want to move forward or what you need from any given situation.

You can try prompts like:

What do I need to feel fulfilled next year?

What is my biggest hurdle to reaching my goals?

How would I feel if nothing changed?

What does my ideal future self look like?

Meditation

Meditation can be a difficult practice to add to your routine. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the immediate benefits and because it involves literally sitting and doing nothing, it can be easy to skip.

But meditation can be so beneficial. Think of it like a deep breath for your brain.

Meditation doesn’t have to be about enlightenment or finding the meaning of life. It doesn’t even need to be a spiritual experience at all. It can be anything you make it.

Meditation gives your mind a little break. It allows you to stop the constant stream of thoughts for just a moment and rest your brain. And with the non-stop worrying most of us have been doing this year, I think all our brains could use a breather.

Move Your Body

Find a way to move your body that feels fun for you. The gym isn’t necessarily a joyful experience for everyone. It can be so tied up in shame and diet culture and harmful body image stereotypes.

But finding a way to connect with your body is such an important way to eliminate the physical stress that builds up inside of you.

We all hold stress in different ways. Some in their shoulders or neck, some in their hips or stomach. But no matter where it lives in your body, it’s important to dislodge that stuck energy.

Finding a movement practice that feels fun and powerful to you, ensures that you’ll stick to the practice. 

Set Intentions

With the new year around the corner, it’s time to start setting intentions as to what we want it to look like. 

The world is a little different these days, so we may need to adjust our goals a little. There are places we can’t travel and opportunities that may not return quite yet. But setting an intention for your year that is both ambitious and manageable can help keep you on track for 2021.

It doesn’t have to be based on finances or careers. Your intention can be something as simple as “I intend to be more gentle with myself this year.” But having an intention to come back to on the days that feel heavy can help to ground you. Whenever you feel like things are out of your control, come back to your intention and centre yourself.

Setting goals around what you want to achieve for the year is great as well, but a more ephemeral intention can encourage you to be kinder to yourself when things feel chaotic.

I don’t want to keep throwing around the term ‘new normal’ but let’s face it, things are different. We need to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves both mentally and physically, so that we can meet this year head on and begin to see a way forward. By adding a few more self care practices into our daily routine in 2021, we can touch base with ourselves and give ourselves a little extra love and care.

Jennifer Doan is a sex educator, coach and the host of the podcast Taking Back Slut. Jennifer is committed to helping people connect to their sexual power in a way that feels safe and comfortable to them. Connect with her on Instagram @jenn_doan for sex rants and unapologetic nudes.