By Laura Vraney, PsyD
As 2021 approaches, one cannot help but reflect on this past year. We have struggled, perhaps like never before – both collectively and individually. In this context, we have also evolved, and grown. Consolidation of growth requires reflection – contemplation of what we have accomplished. To that end, here are some ideas and questions to guide a self-reflection on how we have grown from 2020.
- Coming Together. In this time of urgency and uncertainty, it seemed more central than ever to unite and support one another. There have been countless ways communities across the world have joined, such as organizing meal rotations for essential workers, volunteering to engage in a socially distanced manner with those who are alone, advocating for a cause, or simply asking others how they are faring. What did your “coming together” look like? How did you actualize our central human need for connection this past year?
- Prioritizing Self-Care. Taking care of ourselves is a foundational practice that is critical for mental health. Throughout 2020 many people struggled and grow in their commitment to activities of daily living, such as sleep, physical exercise, a balanced diet, and creating a space and time to acknowledge our feelings. Many also created and implemented limits on social media and news consumption. Others found professional mental health support for the first time. How did you make yourself a priority in 2020?
- Hobbies and Creativity. Many people were surprised to find that they are creative this past year! Whether hobbies involved music, the arts, athletics, astronomy, blogging, home improvement, quilting, or anything else, 2020 was the first year in a long time that many people started to explore their creative selves. Did you start any hobbies this past year, or rekindle your interest in old hobbies? Do you view yourself as more talented or creative than you did in the past?
- Spirituality. Between furloughs, quarantine, remote learning/working, COVID, deaths, and other incredible struggles, many people turned to spirituality this past year. Some simply reflected on the value of life, their individual meaning and purpose, or the spiritual emotion of gratitude. Others turned more overtly to God and faith, by reconnecting with traditions, or engaging in prayer. How did 2020 impact you spiritually? Did you contemplate the meaning of existing, or your faith, more this past year than in 2019?
- Slowing Down. For the past several years, our culture has accelerated to an incredibly fast pace. We have grown accustomed to immediate results, and pushing ourselves to work very hard. This past year, many people took a much needed break. Perhaps that was without choice at times, but many people started to channel their energies towards greater balance of work and life. The benefits of slowing down are myriad, including allowing us to reflect on what we have, and making better choices. How did you slow down this past year, and perhaps reflect on the direction you’d like to take in life going forward?
- Accepting Uncertainty. If 2020 taught us one message it was that life is uncertain. In that vein, we learned to accept the circumstances of life, without approving or enjoying them. This worldwide, and critical, lesson created an opportunity for us to practice acceptance in new ways. Many people willingly let go of their expectations, while compassionately attending to the resulting anxiety and stress. How did you provide yourself and others with the compassion and space needed to become more accepting of life struggles this past year?
We all struggled in 2020, but we all grew as well. As the clock strikes 2021, let’s recall what we have learned, and consolidate our growth so we can continue on an upwards trajectory for many years to come.