How Can I Start 2022 Afresh After Two Pandemic Years?

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How does one make starry goals and plans when the pandemic still looms large all over the world? And as the recent devastating floods show, some people were not even able to return home, let alone figure out new year resolutions.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed with everything going on. Just like everyone else, sometimes I feel like I want to switch off, ignore the news and hide away. The thing, however, is that we are mothers and nurturers, and we know what that’s like – the work never ends.

There is no hiding away, ignoring the crying baby or child, making sure that the big and little things continue running. So here we are – a new year beckons, and like it or not, we can either sink, swim, or try to swim well. I am no expert, but I am expecting a new baby in 2022, so I have no choice – I’d like to be in the best possible mindset for my family and community in the new year.

Here are some ideas as to what we could all do for ourselves in 2022.

1. Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

First and foremost, are you okay? One of the biggest lessons I learned last year was that I was of little use to anyone when I burned my candle at both ends, and then suffered a mental health crash. This year, I know now that my priority is to recharge, reanalyse and relearn things about myself. I know this is a privileged position to be in, but I have learnt that you cannot use your privilege or strengths to do good if you are not strong or stable yourself.

As I am still learning how to dismantle my old habits and unhealthy patterns, I am currently doing an amazing (and free!) online course called The Science of Well-Being, which was developed by Yale University. I would seriously recommend it to everyone. I also aim to learn how to meditate seriously and set some boundaries for my health, work and relationships.

What will you do for your health and mental health this year so you can then help others?

Actionable ideas:

  • Discuss work-life balance, boundaries or mental health with your superior or colleagues.
  • Seek therapy, counselling or life coaching for a problem or challenge (Here are some links).
  • Take a little (but serious) break to spend some time alone to think, rest, cry or re-strategise – what do you need to feel okay again?
  • Heart-to-heart with husband or partner about sharing the work and mental load.

2. Seize The Moment

This is something my wise husband said to me when I nearly cancelled a trip to visit my family again – “You should just do it when you can. You never know when things will change.” And he was right. I was so happy to reunite with my family and friends (and before the Omicron variant changed everything again!). If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we should seize the moment or opportunities that matter to us, should they come up.

Want to have that staycation with just your mother? Do it. Want to say sorry to the good friend you have wronged? Call her. Borders have opened and you feel like spending some quality time with a best friend? Make the date and go. The great writer Joan Didion, who recently passed away, said it very simply: “Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant.” It is easy to be consumed with worry and anxiety – but life goes on, pandemic or not. Let us not be crippled by our fears and instead, let us create little things to look forward to.

Actionable ideas:

  • Call a loved one and say – “Hey, I think we should spend some quality time, just you and I. Let’s seriously plan something”.
  • Write a long handwritten thank you letter to a family member or friend.
  • Plan a ‘Just us’ – siblings’ trip or gathering or meal.

3. Increase The Diversity In My Life

Last year, I spent many a frustrating and heart-breaking hour trying to battle the scourge of misinformation that was being shared as gospel by loved ones. Whether it was about conspiracy theories or propaganda or just plain fake news, many times it just felt like a hopeless cause. But while I will continue to try and point out misinformation when I encounter it, I realise that the bigger picture is that I will need to make sure I too am always armed well against the possibility of falling prey to bubbles, ignorance, or falsehoods too.

The armour? Diversity. Reaching out to friends and family members from diverse backgrounds, professions, countries, ethnicities, ages and so on. Do I have friends or family members who are doctors, scientists, or other fields that do important work? Do I have local or native friends? Immigrant or refugee friends? Do I have friends from the LGBTQ+ community? Can I read more literature that will educate me about a wide range of topics?

I shall start this year with the reminder that I still know so little, and therefore need to educate myself on so many things. May the world be more open, interesting, and hopeful to me that way!

Actionable ideas:

  • Know another parent who may be a doctor / scientist / researcher? Strike up a conversation and ask questions.
  • Have a friend who has very wide and diverse circles? Ask if you could hang out more, meet new and interesting people.
  • Ask a close and trustworthy friend – “Hey, do you think I could possibly be in a bubble? How can I fix this?”
  • Ask a friend who is an activist or advocate for causes if they have a reading list they could share with you.

4. Deeper, Longer Connections … and Hacks!

When you are feeling like yourself again and strong, reach out to see how you can help others in a meaningful way. Sometimes, just one deep and regular connection with a charity, cause or person will feel more impactful than many different donations. Most of us could write many more actionable ideas and resolutions we have seen time and time and again from various lists. From deleting or taking breaks from social media to sleeping at least 7 hours every night, the truth is we know what could make us feel better and stronger in our lives.

One of the things I have learned from The Science of Well-Being is that knowing is really just half the battle. So you can, for example, understand that sleep and exercise are two very simple but important (and free!) things you can do to improve your well-being significantly, but actually doing something about this is a whole different thing.

So what can we use this year to help us with our goals? Hacks. But specific hacks that could help us kill several birds with one stone. My close girlfriends and I have set up a book club so we can read books focused on how we can live longer and healthier – that will bring us closer and allow us to inspire and support each other with good health and lifestyle ideas.

Reach out to your most loved and grounded friends – what are their tips and hacks for maintaining great friendships, and can you arrange a phone call or meal to talk about this, say, once a month? Share or create goals and plans with your partner, best friends, or family, such as supporting a cause or doing community service together. Start a blog or account that talks about your goals and actions, be it about well-being, shopping less or exercising more, and hopefully that keeps you accountable and others inspired. All these ideas also support longer term well-being through deeper connections.

5. Responsibility and Ownership

Source: Amanda Jones on Unsplash

The final thing that I think wraps it all for me is that I want to take responsibility for my own happiness and ownership of my decisions. I will not expect or depend on my husband for my happiness; my work, productivity or kids for my sense of worth; or my friends for feelings of cherishment. I will not blame or be tormented by others who annoy, trigger or have wronged me, and I will not let them linger in my mind.

You can understand that you can’t control what other people do or think, only what you do or think – but actually being at peace with that fact is a whole different ballgame. This year, I want to get rid of all the excuses I vomit up every year and do the mental toil that results in actual well-being and contentment for myself. I look forward to really serving others as a stronger version of myself.

May we all live, savour, and take on 2022 with all we’ve got.

By Laych Koh

From our team of purposeful, multi-faceted mummies. For editorial or general enquiries, email to us at hello@makchic.com.