By Catherine Miller
Losing weight, improving finances and trying new experiences tend to top my yearly list.
But what happens after a year like 2020?
Last year’s list was thrown into the wind during the chaos of the pandemic. Getting to the gym and eating healthier were replaced with making sure we had food on the table and taking care of families in need.
But now that we have had time to absorb the changes in our lives, it is time to take a fresh look at our traditional goals and fine-tune them to make the most of the coming year.
Health: Physical and Mental Goals
Health goals top my list each year. This year it is a two-fold resolution. In addition to improving physical health, I have added improving mental health to the list. The stress of the past year has hit most of us. I like ritual. I like planning. 2020 took me out of my office routine and into a homebound work format that had to be reset. This year I plan to use daily meditation to relax and reassess daily goals. There are so many variables in our lives now that it’s important to be fluid in what we plan to accomplish on a day-to-day level on both a personal and professional level. I plan to go back to regular yoga classes that will help with both mental and physical health. With the use of DVDs and online videos I can continue yoga while social distancing. Daily walks will continue to be my go-to fitness and de-stress tool.
Offering relaxation, what better way than reading to transport your mind from the cold WNY winter to a distant place with crowds of characters waiting to be discovered. Reading stimulates brain activity and promotes creativity and imagination. As our current world becomes more limited in experiences, reading offers a way to expand our horizons. Our local bookstores have thousands of books that offer an immediate retreat to a new realm and visiting our community bookstores aids in our local economy. A definite win-win.
Travel Local and State-wide
Every year I try to visit new destinations along with rediscovering a few from my past. The pandemic is making this difficult, but not impossible. Even with elevated positivity rates you can visit outdoor or non-populated venues and get away from your daily routine. Niagara Falls, often noted as one of the seven wonders of the world, is available for a day trip and displays its winter beauty in cascades of frozen snow and ice. The Festival of Lights is underway and is breathtaking. Having not visited in years, the falls will remake an appearance on my travel list, along with trips to the Thousand Islands and Adirondack Mountains. All venues offer non-populated open-air activities. Once nicer weather makes its way back to the region, I plan to visit local venues that have taken an economic hit. Kayaking, touring our arts centers, lunching on the waterfront and visiting places like Olcott, Ellicottville and the Elmwood Village for a local shopping excursion will be much needed ventures after the long hiatus.
My expenditures have definitely changed this past year. With my youngest child returning from college and grocery prices going up, my weekly grocery bill increased considerably. At the same time, our social budget diminished without daytrips, dinners out, movies and the like. It is time to redraft the monthly budget to take these new factors into account. It’s also a great time to check out the balances on your mortgage, loans and credit cards, and touch base with lenders for better rates. If you are able to put more into savings, shop around for the best rate and don’t forget to check rates at your local credit union to keep the funds in our regional market.
Organize and Declutter
Decluttering is a goal I began during the stay-at-home phase of the pandemic that I continue to complete in the new year. After 20 years in our house there are objects stored in the back of our closets that need to find a new home. Surely my son will not miss that Ninja Turtle suitcase from 1995. While continuing my efforts in 2021, I am redistributing what I can to those in need and donating useful items to local donations centers to avoid them ending up in a landfill. There are more people than ever utilizing donation centers due to financial constraints and a perfect time to donate to them.
The above are my traditional top resolutions. But in 2021 it is time to add a new resolution:
Reach out to Others
Normally a very social person, there has been a marked decrease in my interaction with people since the onset of the pandemic. Working from home and minimizing time with family and friends to limit exposure have combined to make my social life nearly non existent. I reside with two family members which gives me daily human interaction, but I know many who live alone. This year I resolve to reach out on a regular basis to those who are isolated. While phone calls are the easiest, I have decided to use video calling more regularly to allow for a more personalized experience. The next few months promise to be difficult for those that are isolated, and a friendly face might make all the difference.
As we trek into 2021 we should be mindful that times of transition offer a chance for new growth. Instead of continuing resolutions of old, we should embrace this opportunity to change things a bit to suit the current climate and embrace activities within our current limitations. Certain changes made can aid the local economy — which is a much-needed bonus. If you are planning to add health goals to the new year include activities that can be completed with social distancing and improve your mental health as well as physical. Finding new ways to keep active, socialize and relax will continue to be essential as we learn to roll with what comes our way in the 2021 frontier.