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The year 2020 brought immense challenges none of us could have anticipated. It was a year that taught us a lot about ourselves and what’s truly important. And while we don’t know exactly what awaits us in 2021, whatever the New Year brings, it’s important that we strive to keep ourselves in a positive headspace and protect our peace of mind.

To guard your peace means to guard your heart, mind, and your home from unnecessary stressors and negativity that seek to disrupt your joy and distract you from the things that are truly important. For some, these stressors may manifest as a toxic work environment. For others, it may be a chronically negative and troublesome relative or friend. Whatever the source of your stress, it’s crucial to recognize it for what it os and deal with it accordingly.

In life, ups and downs are inevitable. Trouble comes to us all, but we do have some level of control over the elements that we allow to make us perpetually unhappy. Here are 10 ways to protect your peace in 2021.

Tap in spiritually

Whatever your religious beliefs are, when it comes to guarding your peace, tapping into your spiritual source can help. Spirituality and prayer have been found to have a positive impact on mental health. As explained by Luna Greenstein in an essay for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, religion can help a person to “tolerate stress by generating peace, purpose, and forgiveness.”

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Reduce time spent on social media

While social media offers a great source of entertainment, it can also serve as a gateway to negativity, depression, anxiety, and feelings of worthlessness. Commit to spending less time on social media and more time living in the present with the real people in your life who matter.

I have nothing planned for today and that's how I like it

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Set designated me-time hours

With much of the American workforce working remotely, it can be difficult to draw the line between work and home life. And if you happen to be a parent, the burden is even greater as you try to figure out how to balance work responsibilities, childcare, and remote learning, in some cases. Oftentimes, this results in very little me-time for working moms. Downtime is a necessity when it comes to maintaining one’s mental health, so commit to designated me-time where you relax and only do the things that you enjoy.

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Spend time with your real friends

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life is short. It has caused us to reevaluate many of our relationships and the energy that we spend on friendships that don’t bring positivity into our lives. Commit to spending more time with your genuine friends whose motives you don’t have to question.

Pensive serious young black muslim woman wearing a hijab looking away

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Commit to emotional honesty

To be emotionally honest is to be completely transparent with yourself and the people in your life about how you feel. While practicing emotional honesty, you avoid suppressing your true feelings in order to make others comfortable and to avoid conflict. Though emotional honesty can feel unnatural at first, the benefits outweigh the temporary moments of discomfort.

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Set clear boundaries

Be clear about what you will and will not tolerate in your personal and professional relationships and then set boundaries according to those limitations. The people who enjoy the most peace in their lives have learned to cultivate their own happiness by refusing to allow any and everything to go on in their relationships.

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End relationships that bring constant negativity

In addition to maintaining healthy boundaries, it is also important to be intentional about the relationships that we choose to entertain. Relationships that are a consistent source of stress, negativity, and drama should be put to rest or at the very least, the amount of contact should be limited.

Smiling businesswoman writing in book while sitting in home office

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List your priorities

Listing your priorities in order of importance can be a transformative activity as it can help to put things in perspective for you. Oftentimes, we will say things like, “family is what’s most important” while prioritizing work above all else. By thoughtfully putting your priorities in writing, you will become more self-aware in regard to how you spend your time.

African-American businesswoman in a video conference

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Use the word “no”

Saying “yes” to everything can feel good temporarily because it makes the people around us happy and it helps us to avoid those moments of discomfort that often follow after saying “no.” However, in the long, this leaves us burdened, exhausted, and resentful. While it’s great to be a blessing to others, it’s equally important to know your limitations and avoid overextending yourself.

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Trust your gut

Discernment is an important skill that we don’t exercise enough. Many times, we will an inner voice or a strong gut feeling that tells us something is not right with a situation. However, we dismiss our intuition and move forward anyway only to later learn that our instincts had been right all along. Part of protecting your peace is trusting your intuition.

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