- Nancy Samardzic
Hindsight is 2020
The new year is here. It felt like it would never get here - but at the same time it felt like time kept flying by.
At the end of each year and beginning of the next, I tend to become self-reflective; 2020 is definitely no different. This year has been difficult for me as well as for a lot of people. Examining the previous year and identifying the lessons I have learned and the positives that shine through is no different than my previous year end reflections.
This year instead of making resolutions (because let’s be honest, I never keep mine anyways), I wanted to think back on 2020 and find lessons I can apply to my life in 2021.
The Importance of Staying Connected to Family and Friends
Living away from family and friends is difficult, especially when trying to establish a support group in a new location. I have not been home to Chicago for a visit in almost 3 years due to work and personal reasons. I started 2020 with plans of visiting in April and then again in October for a friend’s wedding. I reached out to friends I haven’t seen in forever and began making plans and getting so excited to reconnect. On top of reconnecting, I was looking forward to eating all my favorite Chicago foods (like Portillo’s!). But then March came. Things changed. My trip home was canceled and rescheduled at least 3 times before I said ‘forget it’ for this year.
What I learned though was that although I can’t see my family or friends in person, there are ways to stay connected. We used video chats to talk and see each other. I know that we are all sick of video calls by now. I also know that I sound like a broken record - stay in touch - do video calls - yadda yadda. But honestly, to me, if I can’t be home in person then video chat is the next best thing. At least I can see them and they can see me (and all the kitties and puppies!). In 2021, I plan to make more of an effort to connect with my family and friends via technology (and fingers crossed that I can finally visit!)
Not Letting the Negative Overshadow the Positive
Yes, 2020 was full of infinite not-so-good moments, but at the same time, I know good things happened too. It is hard to focus on the positive while everyone is talking about all the negatives. Towards the end of this year, I was feeling drained. I needed to focus on positive things so I didn’t become overwhelmed. My positives: I decided to try something new in my career and I finally focused more on self-care. I also focused on the positives that happened to people in my life: friends getting married, friends building a house, and my great nephew starting kindergarten.
Going into 2021, I know that I need to focus on the positive moments, both big and small. For me, focusing on the positive will help me to not dwell on the negative (which just brings me down) and clear my mind. I have a bad tendency of highlighting what went wrong and replaying it over and over (the clinicians at BLCC tell me that this is called ruminating thoughts and contributes to bringing my mood down!). It is a small change, but I intend to focus more on the positives and what I am grateful for. I think my stress levels will thank me for it (The BLCC clinicians agree!).
Taking Breaks From Social Media
Social media has its good and bad parts. Being home by myself throughout this pandemic led me to pick up my phone and scroll Instagram and Facebook - way too much. I was trying to stay connected, updated, and fill the time. On social media, we are being thrown information about current events and people. Sometimes you want to stay in loop - and what better way than the internet. Oftentimes, I felt myself becoming anxious and overwhelmed seeing all the posts and consuming endless information (let alone the topics of all this information).
In 2021, I will schedule breaks from social media. The amount of information that is shared is overwhelming. Taking a break will allow me to destress. I am usually an avid reader - and re reader of my favorite books. I even spoiled myself with a new Kindle! In 2021, I am setting an intention to read the books on my list and finish crocheting the blanket that has been sitting in my closet for over a year. I am not sure what else I will do with the breaks, but I know that I have options that will add to my life rather than increase my anxiety.
So in 2020, I learned:
I don’t need to see people in person to stay connected.
By highlighting the positives, in not only my life but those important to me, I will combat negative, anxious, and overwhelmed emotions.
My mental health will thank me for taking social media breaks - and I will re engage in my interests!
What have you learned in 2020? What are you bringing into 2021?