How did you feel in 2020?
As we now approach the end of 2020, someone asked me this question and I started to think about my reply. I remember watching the TV when Big Ben chimes rang on 1st January and then as the days, weeks, months have gone by this year, I have felt myself untangle stepping outside my comfort zone and reflecting – this year has been a difficult one for all. Covid-19 has changed the lives of everybody globally. A crisis we hadn’t envisioned, if a psychic had predicted this would happen, we would have dismissed it as sheer nonsense.
2020 a year of celebration, with people excited for many reasons, thinking it might be a great year, a decade since the last one, maybe a special year for some – that is what we dreamt it may have been – but it landed upon us from another dimension, like no other (a bit like Dr Who)! Things we took for granted, our daily routine, working, dining, going on holidays, gym, having a cup of tea with a friend, even mundane moments feel like a luxury right now. Workers losing jobs, unable to feed their family, food poverty for children increasing, home-schooling, etc. I read an article in which psychologists said “that losing a job equates to the grief of losing a loved one”. This pandemic has caused devastation across the globe, its affected families, friends, children, etc, losing that human basic need of social interaction and connection with others we all yearn for right now. Missing the touch of hugging someone to feel the warmth of their embrace. We live in uncertain times right now with people at war, countries at war and everyone losing their loved ones. Definitely not the year I thought it would be.
At the beginning of the year society delved into panic buying, stockpiling and fear of missing out (FOMO). From conversations, one of the hardest things to deal with for many people this year has been the national lockdown and all the uncertainty surrounding it. Having spent most of the year indoors and then worrying about whether we should be outdoors – listening to the government changing their minds on a daily basis – then hearing new words which became part of our vocabulary: coronavirus, pandemic, WHO, handwashing, social distancing, hand sanitiser, self-isolating, lockdown, virus, soap and water, positive, negative, track and trace, quarantine, masks, flatten the curve, reduce the cases of infection, cough, shortness of breath, meet in the garden only, COVID-19 bubbles – Tier 1, 2, 3 & 4!
The digital world had been telling us for years we had to change and move forward, we didn’t listen as we believed there was nothing better than face to face contact. However, with the changing times and the rise of digital technology, platforms like ZOOM and Microsoft Teams, rose among us as giants and became our saviours. The pandemic forced people apart but this has bought us closer together, they have helped us adapt to a way of working that was different to us as we didn’t want to BUT had to! With many of us working from home it has shown us how important connecting and communicating is with our peers and service users. Seeing faces on screens, waving at each other and having conversations never done before. These systems have even helped those fearful of technology and given them newfound confidence, those isolated and alone to be in touch with others for support or to see a friendly face. They have become second nature to us now, part of normalisation – the new era, the backbone to how we live and work in this new virtual world. Look at it as a time capsule – when people reflect back in the future of how we jumped our way from one day to the next!
However, we have seen and faced many challenges this year, people from all walks of life coming together and charities pulling us through, foodbanks helping communities, the NHS our heroes, helping and saving lives of our nearest and dearest. Standing on our doorstep to applauding them for their life-saving work during the pandemic and bringing neighbours and the community together. Togetherness comes to mind when prior to this it was all becoming toxic and all about BREXIT!
Mental health and wellbeing a “profound and long-lasting” effect on individuals and certain groups at risk will extend beyond those who have been affected by the virus. Mental health isn’t one cure that fits all. Lockdown had a major impact on the UK’s mental health, including increased rates of factors including depression, loneliness, anxiety, suicide attempts and self-harm. It is really important that we regularly check in with others even if it’s a text.
Although it is a relief that some of the lockdown measures have gradually been eased (or not), it is only natural to feel anxious about life post lockdown and the changes we must deal with. Just as it was okay to be worried about lockdown, it is okay to worry about the next phase. It is important to not expect too much of yourself too soon and take things gradually. Anxiety has been a big cause for concern for many people globally this year.
Anxiety UK suggests the “Apple” technique to deal with anxiety and worries:
Acknowledge – uncertainty as it comes to mind
Pause – Don’t react at all. Pause and breathe
Pull back – it is only a thought or feeling. Thoughts are not statement or facts.
Let go – of the thoughts or feeling it will pass. You don’t have to respond to them.
Explore – the present moment, because right now, in this moment.
For those in recovery, addiction does cause turmoil and it is really about your personal growth, resilience and about changing your pattern of behaviour. In recovery, you will encounter many challenges and have to explore what coping mechanisms work and don’t work for you. Focus on the here and now, the raw, honest thoughts and feelings about what’s happening in the moment. Sometimes dwelling on the things, we can’t change or control are more likely to make us feel anxious, insecure and uncertain at times.
This year for some of us it has helped to strengthen our self-belief and inner confidence. We should be grateful for every opportunity, but we have to also start believing that we are good at what we do. By sharing who we are and what’s important to us, we significantly increase our chances of having our needs met.
Be thankful for each moment reflecting on how you can change the cycle. Hopefully you can find solace and support in this process, to continue working towards your journey and hope we return to seeing each other again. What this year has taught me is you can’t prevent a crisis but with resilience and taking one day, one step at a time is important, as nothing is planned. Be Kind and gentle to yourselves – a reminder to me and you, as this will guide us through. Let’s hope 2021 is the year of change!
There is no better way to end this piece than with this quote:
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”. Nelson Mandela.
Wishing everyone a happy and safe new year.