Re-Thinking the Resolution: Achieving Health + Happiness in 2021

Written By: Anneliese Lawton

The New Year isn’t the only time to make resolutions – but anytime someone says the word resolution, it’s usually followed by something like this: hit the gym, eat more veggies, take chances, reduce stress, live a healthier life – you know the drill. Each and every year we craft a list with the intention to finally start living our best life. And each and every year, without fail, we always seem to fall off the wagon.

I think I speak for many when I say that 2020 was the year that changed everything. For many of us, it put life into perspective. Twenty-twenty forced us out of our comfort zones, into stressful situations, and provided the opportunity to learn what truly matters.

Now, in 2021, we have the chance to take this new perspective and act on it. With help from local experts, we’re providing an alternative approach to the typical resolution…. one that focuses on the mind, the spirit, and the body. We understand fitting into that old pair of jeans is nice – but how we feel on the inside is what truly counts.

Karen Sue-A-Quan, Pediatric Clinical Care Pharmacist at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto and Spiritual Life Coach is an Oakville resident and mom. With a special interest in medication that treats anxiety and pain management, Karen has been directly exposed to the mental health implications of COVID-19. As a Clinical Pharmacist and Life Coach, Karen has created a dual role for herself that complements one another – using science and intuition to help others focus on their soul health.

When it comes to setting goals, Karen says setting goals that are in harmony with who we truly are is key. While it sounds easier said than done, Karen says it’s important to think about the conversations we’re having with ourselves and open our awareness to who we are rather than what’s projected on us. “Everything we experience shapes us. COVID-19 is providing less physical noise and more time to reevaluate what we want from life – but the emotional noise from all of this is loud.”

Karen says things like sleep and nutrition are great for our physical well-being. She stresses “it’s important to make time for joy. Put it at the top of your to-do list – whether it’s music, nature, conversations, or dancing.” Learning about new things such as plants, starting a new program, or taking on a new project can also shift our mindset.

Brenda Jasmin, Public Speaker with a B.A. in Psychology is no stranger to changes that a shift in mindset can bring. Through her studies in positive psychology, Brenda has learned that a positive mindset helps with not only mental health but physical health as well. Research has shown that people with a positive attitude are less prone to depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. They also have less stress, better coping skills (especially during times of hardship), and a better overall mood.  

Brenda says, “You can experience sadness surrounding COVID-19 and still have a positive outlook for the future. Look for the good (we typically look for what’s negative) and ask yourself what you can be grateful for at this moment.” No commute, more time with family, and time to explore your neighbourhood trails are just some to consider. 

As for a well-rounded resolution, Brenda suggests setting time aside to replenish your energy with gratitude, self-compassion, and time to commiserate with friends and family. Brenda says it’s important to find activities that fill you up rather than drain your energy.

Like Brenda and Karen, yoga instructor and life coach, Renée Walker, is passionate about helping people cultivate self-awareness to help to align their energy level and create more peace in their day. Renée says that now more than ever it’s important to disconnect from external noise and simply “be”. 

“I hesitate to talk about resolutions as I prefer to think of them as daily practices that focus on your ‘being’ instead of your ‘doing’”, says Renée. She recommends finding ways to find peace and being present in the moment. “I love the idea of daily rituals because they are unique for each person. They can include activities such as meditation, journaling, visualization, a walk outside or simply taking a moment to drink your coffee/tea each morning free of distractions.” This provides an opportunity to begin your day with intention instead of moving straight into a more reactive mode which usually involves giving to others.

If you’re not sure how to get started on this new approach to the resolution, one that focuses on the health of your mind and body – our experts know just where to start. 

Karen ( runs a class called ‘Soul School’ which helps people connect with their true self – Karen stresses that if we understand who we are, our mind will be more at ease and we’ll be more likely to achieve what’s important to us. 

This January, Brenda ( started running an online class called ‘Happiness Habits’, where you can learn how to apply positive psychology tools to your life. Brenda will also be running a corporate program in resilience training. 

As for Renée (, she’s running a series of mental wellness courses on her website, covering everything from meditation, finding balance, and teaching you how to be accountable to your goals as you honour and make yourself a priority.  

Resolutions should make your life less stressful – so with guidance from these three ladies, kick-off new goals that truly matter to you! 

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