Letting go of the year that’s been and getting ready for the year that can be.
I’m not sure it even needs to be said but I’ll say it anyway; 2020 has (for most of us, anyway) been a very difficult year. The unexpected outbreak of Covid-19 created uncertainty, disruption, anxiety, loss, isolation and so much more. It wasn’t all bad (I’ll touch on this a bit more later), but it almost certainly wasn’t as good as most of us would have hoped if we’d been asked 12 months ago.
But, here in Australia, anyway, things are looking up. We’ve done a tremendous job of containing the virus and as a result, it looks as though we can gradually expect to return to normal over the coming months.
But what if you’re still hurting? What if you’re still grieving losses and disappointments? What, does “normal” mean anyway, and what if you don’t want to just go back to the way things were?
I really encourage you to ask these questions; and just as importantly, to give some serious consideration to how you’d like to answer them. As you do so, I offer you the following tips which I sincerely hope might help you process what’s gone on, where you’re at, and how you want to move forward from here…
To begin with, allow yourself to feel all the different feelings you’re probably experiencing. If you’ve felt or are still feeling anxious and distress, sad and down, maybe even angry and frustrated then that’s completely understandable. These are perfectly normal and appropriate human emotions and especially given the year we’ve all had it would be a surprise if you’d not had even just a little of these unpleasant feelings.
Be gentle with yourself and definitely don’t beat yourself up if you’ve not coped as well or achieved as much as you would have liked. If you’re reading this then you’re still trying and that’s an accomplishment in and of itself.
At the same time, recognise that … this too shall pass. Things WILL get better and you WILL feel better and at least some of that is within your control if you do what you can to implement the strategies I’m describing here.
Do whatever you need to do to nurture yourself. This will vary from person to person, but it might involve taking some time out and resting; returning to exercise and getting your eating back on track and healthy again; it might be reconnecting with family and friends or possibly cutting back on drinking that’s crept up during isolation. There’s no right or wrong way to self-care; there’s only a way that works for you, so do whatever you need to heal and give yourself the time and space to feel good again.
Make a marker to end the year that’s been and begin again. New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day is the most obvious choice for this but there’s no reason you can’t set any date to distinguish between what’s been and what’s coming. Consciously and mindfully deciding to finish one period of time and begin a new one can be tremendously helpful and it can provide a structure for letting go and starting fresh.
And talking about starting fresh, think carefully about what you’d like your “new normal” to be like. Don’t just return, automatically, to the way things were in the past. By all means, go back to or get back into what was good; but take this as an opportunity, also, to make some positive changes and to stop anything that wasn’t working in your life and begin to work towards those goals about which you’ve been dreaming.
At the beginning of this article, I noted that 2020 hasn’t been all bad. Almost everyone with whom I’ve spoken has touched upon the fact that it’s been an opportunity to reflect and re-evaluate, to assess priorities and to really think about what’s important. This has been, for many of us, the silver lining to the cloud and I hope you can continue to focus on these priorities, to remember what’s REALLY important in life, and to use this as a way to create something bigger and better in the future.