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New Year's Resolution

If You Must Have Resolutions - Choose Sanity

I’m sitting in the dentist’s chair and I’m trying to breathe deeply (but not too deeply) and talk myself down. I’ve never been fearful about going to the dentist, but the pandemic has changed that. I’m feeling super vulnerable with no mask on - exposed to the staff and anyone else that had been in the building earlier that day. I’m trying not to focus on all the potentially contaminated air that I’m breathing in. I’m trying not to think about the last person that was in this chair, or whether the hygienist has a large circle of covid friendly families or if the dentist’s son wears a mask at his girlfriend’s house. Dr. Dentist is making conversation and asks me “So what’s your New Year’s resolution?” It takes me a second to comprehend the question. “Resolution?” I ask, trying to buy some time for my neurons to connect to rational thought. Frankly, he might as well have asked me how my massive 50th birthday party was that I’d always planned on having. Just as likely and it actually hadn’t even occurred to me to have one in a pandemic. Then, I start thinking. “Is that bad?” I wonder. Should I have had a resolution? Every other year I have had one - whether I announce it to the world or keep it quietly to myself - but I had some goals, nonetheless. I mention the dentist’s resolution question to my oldest daughter and she snorts and replies, “to survive!” She’s joking, but there is an absolute truth in there. As we look back on our accomplishments of 2020 the biggest one is that we are still here and, mostly in our right minds, able to tell the tale. We adapted the very best we could. 2021 is not a year to put extra pressure on ourselves to get organized, finally do those photo albums or lose ten pounds by our birthday. If we feel any sort of hankering to have a resolution it would best be along the lines of being gentle and kind to ourselves. How about eliminating the word “should” from our vocabulary, muzzling our internal critic, having a relaxing bath a few times a week, meditating before bed or feeling no guilt when we serve our kids cereal for dinner? These are goals that help nurture ourselves and safely sustain our balance and sanity. That, Dr. Dentist, is my resolution.

About the Author

Vanessa Elias is a mental health activist, certified parent coach, speaker, and writer featured on NPR, PBS, and in the WSJ. She is the founder of Thrive with a Guide, LLC and serves as a group facilitator for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Block Party USA is her passion project. Vanessa helps parents achieve healthier family relationships and lasting, meaningful connections.


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