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Good Riddance, 2020: 5 Lessons from The Worst Year

Unprecedented. Challenging. Weird. Call it what you will, but 2020 was quite a year. As strange as it’s been getting used to wearing masks, social distancing, changes in work environments, and more, this year has also taught us all a number of valuable lessons that can help improve our post-pandemic lives in 2021 and beyond.

Embrace Change

Whether your job became a work-from-home situation, your kids’ school went online, or your favorite restaurant had to reduce its seating or move the tables outdoors, we’ve all had to embrace change this year. And we did. While many of us are still waiting for that time things return to some semblance of normal, we have continued working, going to school, and running our businesses the best ways we could in the current environment.

Focus on You

In 2020, we saw a marked increase in issues like depression and anxiety. But we also saw a rise in the number of people finding healthy ways to cope, from adopting meditation to in-home exercise to using tele-health services adopted by most mental health experts. Taking care of yourself is not selfish; it’s necessary, especially if you want to be there for family or friends, and 2020 has shown us how important it is to take care of ourselves inside and out.

Time Well Spent

Working or going to school from home has  been a challenge for those who are used to working in an office or going to school. Put a different perspective on it  by focusing on what you gained, rather than missing the office or school environment, it’s likely not as bad as it first seemed. Many of us have gained time normally spent on commutes (which often means saving money as well). Mornings are a bit less stressful when you don’t have to worry about the commute or those with kids being awake, fed, dressed, and out the door before the bus comes. Now they just need to be ready to walk to their laptop or tablet to get to class or work. And being able to do a load of laundry in between video calls means nights and weekends are freed up to spend time with your loved ones, rather than chores.

Unplugging is OK

Limiting news consumption and easing back on social media to avoid negative  topics and pandemic overload. Many of us have found ways to unplug, and the benefits have shown us how OK it is to unplug now and then. Sure, you can’t tell work that you’re not responding to emails, but you can still take a vacation day to work on a project around the house or enjoy some much needed “You” time. And there was something wonderful about the Zoom calls between friends and family that often were just texts in the pre-pandemic days. Being able to see people face-to-face (even if it was no in-person) kept us connected rather than focused on our phone screens.

Don’t Know What You’ve Got till It’s Gone

Being able to visit a museum, movie theater, or concert venue seems like a luxury now. It’s true: we don’t know what we have until it’s gone (even if it’s only a year-long hiatus). When the restrictions from the pandemic end, and cultural institutions fully open, we need to remember those moments throughout 2020 when we wished we could go to any one of our region’s amazing collection of museums, an actual movie theater, or a concert that wasn’t held online.

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