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Treat Yourself

A Reflection on What We Learned as a Community in 2020

It’s official: At least half of the country feels like 2020 was the worst year of their lives. Most Americans say that they spent the year on edge due to the economic uncertainties, civil unrest, environmental disasters, and (of course) the pandemic. 

But the clouds that came with 2020 were not without their silver linings. We’ve learned some lessons in the past year that will empower us in the future if we take them to heart:

Self-Care Means Letting Go

“Letting go” tops the list because it has more than one meaning:

  • We learned to disconnect. At some point, we all seemed to realize that there’s a difference between “being informed” so you can be prepared and doom scrolling through the headlines because you’re overwhelmed. We’re starting to put the brakes on our electronics and turning off our phones, laptops, and social media accounts.
  • We learned to be grateful for what we have. Instead of worrying about yet-to-be-met goals or plans that were thwarted, many of us learned to embrace the present and be happy with what we already have and our current place in the world. 
  • We learned to eliminate excess. We’ve shopped less, purged more, and decluttered our lives. We cleaned garages, cleared attics, and emptied closets.

Releasing the things that burden our spirits and steal our time gives us more energy and space to nurture our spirits and grow in the future.

It’s Okay to Seek Help

“Normal” went out the window so fast in 2020 that people stopped trying to pretend they were able to maintain their emotional equilibrium — and that’s a good thing. Putting on a brave face during a disaster denies us the opportunity to seek comfort and aid from others.

Nicole Carey, the Licensed Professional Counselor at the heart of Empowering Solutions Counseling, tells us, “People have realized that it’s okay not to be okay in a time of crisis. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to admit that you’re anxious. It’s okay to reach out for help.”

Her facility, which offers counseling services in Michigan (Macomb County, Wayne County, and Oakland County) has seen an influx of new clients seeking both counseling for stress and life coaching services. People are learning to embrace the changes in their lives and find their resilience and personal power.

There Is Value in Relaxation

The pandemic forced most of us to slow down and reexamine our values. For far too long, our culture has placed a premium on productivity: If you weren’t working — or, at least, busy doing something — what was the point?

This is the year we all were forced to take a breather. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, we started to reckon with the fact that always trying to accomplish something is downright exhausting. In our isolation, we learned to enjoy just spending time together with our families, watching the sunrise, sipping a cup of tea, or reading a book — and it was okay not to have an end goal in mind.

Like it or not, COVID-19 and the other problems we faced in 2020 have changed our world — but not entirely for the worse. If we carry the positive lessons of the year forward, we can all enjoy a better future.

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