Okay I will admit, when I woke up on the first day of 2021 there was a part of me that truly believed the pandemic was over and COVID-19 was behind us. But lo and behold, there I was grabbing my mask to run errands again. The anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic forced me to think about all of the ways we were forced to adapt to this far less than ideal situation.
The harsh reality is that some of the aftermath of the virus was extremely destructive. Millions of deaths worldwide, going weeks and even months without seeing family and friends, not celebrating holidays as we once did, job loss, and all of the grief, sadness, anger and anxiety that came with it. However, I do believe that a silver lining exists in the darkest of times if you make the effort to look. These are some of the take home messages I feel I have received from the past year and they might be helpful to you too.
Allow yourself to feel anger, grief, sadness, anxiety and whatever other feelings manifest.
Humans are conditioned to fight their feelings and power forward. Yes, we must find our inner resilience in difficult times, but sometimes we do need to stop and sink into and honor the human feelings we are experiencing. It is also perfectly acceptable to share these feelings with a trusted family member, friend, or even mental health professional when they become overwhelming.
Identify ways you have grown in a positive way this past year.
Maybe you found ways to protect your own physical and mental health, strengthened your relationships, or developed a new skill. Possibly you made a point to slow down a bit and be more mindful. No positive change is too small to count, especially over this past year!
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
We truly learned this past year that things can change in a heartbeat. Think back over the year and see what might seem smaller now. What once was a bigger deal might not be so much now. Maybe you set boundaries to put work away at a certain time and spend time in quiet solitude or with your spouse, kids, or weekly Skype call with a friend.
It always feels good to help someone else.
We all have needed a helping hand at times this past year. Can you thank someone who offered you their time? Did someone thank you for yours?
We aren’t quite out of the woods yet with this pandemic. Although some days have been harder than others, if we look close enough, there is always something to be gained.