This year was long. This year was hard. This year was sad. Yet it was full of life lessons.
Throughout the year, we shared with readers lots of ways to cope gracefully. They included creating rituals, learning to listen to loved ones, and practicing self-compassion in these unchartered waters. Here is a roundup. Here’s to a better 2021.
During the first days of the coronavirus, I wore my pajamas well into the afternoon and alternated between writing on my couch and watching Netflix on said couch. It didn’t take long to realize I had to rethink my routine. (Yet, I still hit the COVID-19 wall.) The first order of business: Reflect and let go of the things that don’t bring joy. And here’s another one that’s proved useful:
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic meant an end to high-fiving strangers and hugging the ones we loved. This loss left many of us — especially those of us who live alone — feeling anxious and melancholy because we could no longer rely on our most natural ways to cope with anxiety: taking comfort in human touch. Experts advised getting a pet, snuggling under a warm blanket, and taking up yoga, because poses like the eagle pose are self hugs. And then there’s this one:
George Floyd’s violent death at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin sparked peaceful protests and rage across America. Black people weren’t surprised. We live with systemic racism every day. But white America was shocked and wanted advice on how to deal. In the midst of coping with our own feelings of fear, Black folks were expected to lead efforts of racial reckoning while remaining strong in our own families. Not fair, mental experts stressed. Black people have the right to put our own mental health first. I found this tip helpful:
Thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown, our wardrobes morphed from chic to cozy overnight. What to do when your relationship with your clothes changes? We talked to experts who provided coronavirus-friendly advice on how to sort through your pieces and how to donate safely. And maybe, just maybe, we will emerge from quarantine with a new look.
It was a year of sadness, but it was a year of palpable anger, too. Anger is OK, because it motivates us to make change. But rage is another story and is the doorway to mental unrest and overall bad health. One way to stop anger in its tracks, experts say, is to remain conscious. Here’s a first step to avoid the raging waters.
Our cut-off culture got a fresh side-eye thanks to the presidential and vice-presidential candidates’ nonstop talk-overs during the debates. It was so bad, it bordered on cringe-worthy. And that’s not all. Even our own conversations — on Zoom and with colleagues — were riddled with butt-ins. We talked to communications experts who shared their advice on how to stop interrupting and what to do when we keep getting stopped mid-sentence.
COVID-19 lockdown should have reminded us all how our actions impact each other. Yet when is it prudent to speak up? Should you turn in your friendly neighborhood butcher if his mask only covers his mouth? Probably so. What if you witness someone shoplifting at the self-checkout? If getting involved causes more harm than good, you might want to rethink the need to tattle.
The presidential election divided our nation even further in 2020, to say nothing of our personal relationships. Yet unless we want to sit alone by ourselves in cranky self-righteousness, we need to find a way to at least try to talk to our in-laws again. Experts said it takes honesty, transparency, and forgiveness. The most important step: being honest with ourselves. Though it’s worth remembering that we can choose to get past that which divides us:
The endless hours at home certainly don’t help our creative process flow. In fact, many people say, it’s killing it. So we asked local artists how they are channeling their creative energy during the pandemic. Everyone interviewed went months without making anything. However, the moment they decided to stop focusing on fear of the unknown, they got out of their ruts and got creative again. I particularly liked this tip, from fashion illustrator Denise Fike: