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EDITORIAL: Hope in a new year

EDITORIAL: Hope in a new year

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Having counted down the days until we could all see 2020 in our rearview mirrors, we’re now asking, how can we be sure that 2021 will be better? By making it so.

Let us take the lessons of 2020 forward into this new year and resolve to do better—to be a better listener, a better friend, a better partner and a better neighbor. Let us help our neighbors by continuing to support small local businesses over large corporations, even if it means shopping online or curbside or picking up a gift card to use later.

According to Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/sites/markmurphy/2020/02/11/this-is-the-month-when-new-years-resolutions-fail-heres-how-to-save-them), more than 50% of people make New Year’s resolutions every year—to lose weight, quit smoking, work out, save money and more. However, 80% of those polled generally abandoned those resolutions by the end of February.

Resolving to lose weight or eat healthier is a great personal goal, but maybe what we need more than ever this year is to continue to focus on improving our collective mental health. Incorporate new activities into your routine that not only make you feel healthy but make you feel GOOD—going for a walk in nature, painting or drawing, reading a book, checking in with loved ones—these are the activities that help you have a calmer outlook on what promises to be another challenging year. Don’t forget to take breaks from social media and 24/7 news coverage to recharge your batteries.

In addition to checking in with friends and loved ones, don’t forget that everyone around you has also had a challenging year. Be kind to the checkout clerks at your favorite grocery stores, who likely have dealt with more than their fair share of workplace changes, challenging customers and income insecurity in the past year. Be kind to the mail carriers and delivery people who are not at fault for the millions of delayed package deliveries still meandering their way to homes from the holiday rush. Be kind to the local business owners who have had to juggle caring for their staff and customers during ever-changing government regulations, unexpected closures and the constant threat of staff illnesses against the desire to stay open and keep revenues flowing to avoid going out of business.

To ensure 2021 is a better year than the last, we must also continue to do our part to keep each other safe—by practicing social distancing, wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings as much as possible. Although two COVID-19 vaccines have now been approved for use in the United States, it will still be several months before everyone who wants a vaccine can get one. Slowing the spread to protect exhausted and overworked hospital workers is more important now than ever, and the case numbers after the holidays are not looking good.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine planning, including which groups are currently being prioritized for distribution and where the vaccination clinics will take place, visit the Virginia health department website at www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine.

We all must do our part to make 2021 the better year we hope it will be.

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