The New Year gives us a new chance to cut ourselves some slack


Between the pandemic and the election, no matter what side you’re on, 2020 really has been the Dumpster fire described in all the memes.

But it’s almost over, right? Dec. 31 is almost here and the New Year is a fresh new start.


(heavy sigh)

And it hits – hard in the chest. We must stay this course riddled with anxiety, isolation and frustration. There is really no end in sight.

So, with all that in mind, I reached out to Erin Wiley, a licensed professional clinical counselor and founder of The Willow Center with offices in Toledo and Bowling Green.

So, I ask, what can we do to put ourselves in the right frame of mind to be positive and upbeat?

Erin Wiley

“I don’t think we should,” Wiley said plainly. “Don’t just smooth things over. No one’s doing well and I think we have to be OK with that.”

People have lost jobs, parents are overwhelmed, frontline workers are exhausted. We are stuck in survival mode and we need to cut ourselves some slack.

“As long as you’re keeping your head above water, you don’t have to be making major progress right now,” said Wiley. “We need to give ourselves some grace and permission to realize you might not meet all your goals this year.”

Instead of feigned positivity – the fake it ‘til you make it approach – Wiley suggests putting the focus on being grateful. She says waking up each morning counting your blessings and tracking your gratitudes will help to hard-wire your brain to see the good.

“If I do it every morning, I see things throughout the day,” she said. “It does help you look for the positive things.”

Wiley also suggests keeping connections strong with even without the normal dinners out and holiday gatherings. Get creative. Plan an online office party, play games and have raffles and bingo. Send people stuff ahead of time.

“It requires intentionality,” she said. “Being able to create whatever experience you can, even if it feels lackluster, is better than nothing.”

We need to go easy on ourselves, get outside, practice self-care and try to limit bad behaviors like parking in front of Netflix for hours to forget our feelings.

“Think of yourself as your own friend and think of what they need,” said Wiley.

And remember, it’s OK not be OK.

For information about The Willow Center, visit willow-center.com.