When I think back on the last year, my first thought is “throw it out with the garbage!” It was not a year any of us want to repeat. Turning the page to better days sounds ideal, yet each day can be challenging. Listening to the news can feel like a weighted blanket of doom these days. For the sake of not sounding like a total Debbie Downer, there is an end to this madness eventually. I see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I don’t have the quick answer for how to manage stress during a pandemic. Many health and wellness articles give advice ranging from self-care routines to cocktail recipes and everything in between. The answer is somewhere in there. For me, I’ve taken it day by day and sometimes hour by hour, and what I’ve learned is that 2020 required me to get quiet and listen to my thoughts. To hear the good, the bad, and the sometimes noisy ones. It’s been a process, but what I’ve learned during this time has been immeasurable.
A few reflections:
A BUSY DAY SPEEDS UP THE HOURS
I was already a person who woke up before the sun and made a to-do list for the day. When we received stay-at-home recommendations, I saw it as an opportunity to tackle tasks. Of course there were moments of boredom, but I occupied my time staying happily busy. I grew a garden, cooked new recipes, and even went as far as chalking the neighborhood with positive messages. Staying busy sped up the hours.
QUIET EQUATES TO PRODUCTIVITY
Some people thrive in loud, buzzing work environments. I’m definitely not one of them. I write and strategize for a living and need to be able to hear myself think. When I’m in the zone and someone interrupts my stream of consciousness to talk about themselves, it halts my creativity. Last year, I had gone as far as using noise cancelling headphones at the office. Working remotely has been a blessing that I relish, and to be frank, my writing craft and productivity are better for it.
A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP IS KEY
Anything that I can’t seem to solve or that truly frustrates me is cured by a good night’s sleep. When my mood is exacerbated by the day’s news headlines about the pandemic or the economy, I’ve learned that it’s best just to get some rest and start fresh the next day. I admire people who say “never go to bed mad.” Clearly, they’ve never argued with me about something. Ha!
ALCOHOL IS LIKE A LOUD FRIEND AT A PARTY
I appreciate wine. I love craft beer. Somewhere along the way last year I began drinking too often. Alcohol helped me transition after work to the evening hours, joined me on the weekends, and well, for nearly most occasions. Like a fun friend you take with you as a guest to a party, alcohol eventually had too much fun and embarrassed me. Today, I’ve cut way back on my drinking and I’m better for it.
A tumultuous year of political differences, race riots, and economic downturn hurt a lot of people in 2020. Showing kindness to others was something I could do to make it a little bit better. From a simple act of donating to a charity to smiling through my mask at a stranger in a parking lot, I did what I could to be a nicer person. Because at the end of the day, it’s not what people say that you remember. It’s how they made you feel.
The year 2020 taught me to zero in on what it means to listen to my instincts and support my passions. To be a better version of me.
What have you learned about yourself in the last year? What lessons has 2020 taught you?
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