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What Have We Learned in 2020?

9 lessons to take away.

Dec 21, 2020

2020 has been one doozy of a year, and definitely one for the history books!  A word that could describe it:  Uncertainty.  Uncertainty about the pandemic and how it will affect our lives.  You may have also noticed some other uncertain changes happening in our country.  Uncertainty can feel scary, but getting through it can also help us learn a lot about ourselves.  It can even help us become more able to deal with future problems.  Did you realize any of the following lessons this year? 

A little down time every day is good for you.A little down time every day is good for you.Courtesy of Newyorker.com

Go ahead, do nothing.

While we were all stuck at home, we had a lot of time to think.  We were forced to slow down.  For those of us who are used to packed schedules full of friends, sports, and activities, we may have felt unsettled.  But if you sometimes enjoyed laying around at home a bit, don’t feel bad.  Turns out, some down time is good for us.  In this crazy world, it’s okay to slow down and just BE.  Recharging our batteries by relaxing and not feeling the need to accomplish stuff all of the time is good for our mental and physical health.

It’s okay to ask for help.

Let’s face it, virtual school is no cake walk.  Some of us may have had to ask for help—a lot.  Some of us may have had to reach out to family, friends, teachers or professionals for help at some point.  And you know what?  That’s completely okay.  In fact, it’s encouraged.  One thing the pandemic made glaringly clear is that humans weren’t meant to be isolated.  We’re all connected, we depend on each other, and we’re never alone, even though it may not feel that way all the time.

We're all connected, we depend on each other, and we're never alone.We're all connected, we depend on each other, and we're never alone.Courtesy of Kiowacountypress.org

Unplug once in a while.

Being at home has caused us to cling more to technology to connect with the world, but perhaps some of us also rediscovered the simple joys in life, like nature, hanging with family, or forgotten hobbies.   Much of the news this year was confusing and negative, and knowing when to step away from it all is a great skill to have.  Likewise with social media, where constant comparisons, rudeness and pettiness can get to be too much.  Follow your instincts when you feel like you should recenter your energy on what really matters to you in the non-virtual world.

Knowing when to step away from technology is a great skill to have.Knowing when to step away from technology is a great skill to have.Courtesy of Isliplibrary.org

Count your blessings.

Many of us learned to get by with less this past year, and while it wasn’t fun, we discovered how little we really need.  Without future events to stress over and fewer chances to go shopping, some of us instead focused on what we had in the present moment.  We may have even decluttered and donated stuff gathering dust in our closets, which has a cleansing effect of its own. Or, we may have looked within ourselves to make our own happiness, rather than looking for it in other people and things.  Being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely.

In difficult times, stuff gets revealed.

Times of crisis have a way of shining a big glaring light on all of parts of ourselves, others, and our society that need TLC.  Maybe you noticed things about our society that you never have before, like racial and cultural tensions or problems with our healthcare system.  Also, with fewer distractions to keep us occupied every day, we were forced to be alone with our thoughts more.  How we respond to crisis can determine a lot.  If we’re stressed or angry about something, a crisis can cause us to become even more stressed and angry, or it can force us to finally deal with unresolved emotions.  In short, difficult times can enable you to become more resilient--IF you choose to.

Let difficult emotions pass like a wave through you, and it will be easier for you to move on.Let difficult emotions pass like a wave through you, and it will be easier for you to move on.Courtesy of Depositphotos.com

Life is a gift.  Live in the moment.

It may seem sometimes like we’re invincible, but this year helped remind us that we’re all human and only live once.  It’s best to focus on the things that really matter to us instead of wasting our time worrying about inconsequential stuff.  Our thoughts have a lot of power over us, so why spend your precious time thinking about things that make you upset?  Focus on your routines, goals, and simple things that make you happy.

Accept that sometimes, it just is what it is.

We have power to change some things in our lives, but for the stuff we have no control over, we feel better by accepting the circumstances rather than obsessing over them.   Allow yourself to feel anxious instead of burying your feelings. Remember that change is inevitable—Nothing stays the same forever.  The more flexible we are in our lives, the happier we’ll be in the long run. So if you’re feeling negative, don’t feel bad about it.  

Trust yourself and take care of yourself.

We’ve spent a lot of time in our own company this year.  Hopefully you’ve gotten to know yourself even better.  Maybe you've started habits that are healthier for you.  Maybe you even realized you’re more capable than you thought you were.  You know yourself best, so listen to your inner voice and trust yourself.  You’re in control of your mind, your future, and what you do with your time. 

Is having the last word always worth it?Is having the last word always worth it?Courtesy of Daydreamerlex.com

Pick your battles wisely, with kindness in mind.

You may have seen a lot of unkind behavior in past months.  Are the consequences of arguing with others and always having the last word really worth it?  Sometimes silence is the best response to something, and sometimes it’s best to speak up.  Know when to pick your battles.  We make better decisions when we learn to respond to situations smartly, rather than reacting based on emotion.  Know when to walk away from a situation, realizing that others are fighting their own private battles.