As we approach the festive season, it is astonishing to think that we have spent so much of this year with such an unintended and yet essential goal: staying at home to help save lives. However, even in challenging times like these it is still possible to find things to be grateful for – and to look ahead to future goals beyond the pandemic.
In this article, we consider five ways in which 2020 has offered us surprising opportunities and moments of calm, so that we can approach the holiday season with a positive mindset and optimism for the year ahead.
- Finding Time to Try New Things
Lockdown arrived like a shock to the system, and everyone’s experience was different. Some people were working from home, while others were furloughed. And essential service workers stepped up to the almighty challenge of keeping us safe, healthy, and supplied with food and medicines.
For furloughed workers, there was a gap in the day-to-day experience of life – how to fill those working hours, especially for people who had no childcare or other caring responsibilities? And for everyone else, there was still the potential for extra free time because we were all spending most of our time at home. And so, we tried new things.
Lockdown encouraged people to explore new skills, hobbies and interests, such as bread baking, cake making, language learning, guitar playing or crafting. Many of these skills passed the test of time, too, and have become features of the way we live.
- Appreciating the Great Outdoors
Lockdown was a time of surprising peace, despite the worry and uncertainty. Remember standing outside and hearing the birds sing rather than just the roar of traffic? Or taking a walk with the people in your home to compensate for missing out on your regular gym routine?
This year has seen many of us seek the outdoors as an escape from being stuck indoors, which has changed the way we appreciate nature and our wider world.
- Reframing the Importance of Family and Friends
The ‘rule of six’, household bubbles, social distancing – 2020 has changed how we can interact in person with the people we care about, as well as introducing a slew of new words and phrases into our vocabulary. Working out if, when and how we can see people has been a complex challenge in this pandemic.
If family or friends have been ‘shielding’, then maybe seeing them in person has not been possible for much of the year. And if the people you care about are overseas right now, you may be wondering when you can next see them. Fortunately, modern technology has made it possible for us to stay in touch with the people we love, however near or far they may be.
Patience is going to be important in the weeks and months ahead, but there is good reason to feel hope for a future reunion with the people we care about most. In the meantime, this year has shown us the importance of friends and family – which can be easy to forget in a frantic, non-stop, 24/7 world.
- Finding the Space to Reset and Reflect
As well as giving people the time to learn new skills, 2020 has helped many people to reconnect with themselves away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Perhaps you have found time for mindfulness meditation or spent more time contemplating the things you would like to do with your life – and the things you would like to spend less time doing, too.
Maybe you have enjoyed remote working and want to keep a more flexible work routine going forward, or perhaps you have realised you would like a change of career. Whatever you have discovered about yourself this year, we hope that you continue to make time for personal and professional development in 2021.
- Slowing Down to Plan Ahead
Even though the best laid plans can go awry (as 2020 has shown us again and again), it still makes sense to plan ahead – and after the year we have all had, a future plan may be both helpful and reassuring. Perhaps your new year’s resolutions will hold extra importance this year if they are informed by everything you have learnt in recent weeks and months.
2020 may not have been the year any of us had planned, but perhaps it can offer us a fresh perspective on the world we live in, and the kinds of lives we want to lead. In the future, we might take the time to press pause, reflect and reset more often to help us make wise decisions for the future.
Whether 2020 has been a series of challenges, a series of opportunities or a mix of both, we hope you have a peaceful and enjoyable holiday season – and that your plans for 2021 bring you happiness.