I’m want to share 5 life lessons from 2020 that I am making sure to carry over and continue working on in the new year.
5 Life Lessons from 2020
Happy New Year! I think it’s safe to say the past year was a lot. A lot to handle, a lot to carry, and I for one really started feeling the collective energy myself. In a period of extreme uncertainty and unrest, I couldn’t show up for social media and blog everyday, when I couldn’t even show up for myself.
But stepping away from unnecessary stressors was just one of the many lessons I learned in the past year.
Here are 5 life lessons or key takeaways from the past year that I’m bringing with me into the new year.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away (or Take a Break)
Of the 5 life lessons I’ve learned from 2020, this one was a big one. This past year I decided to take a break.
Firstly, I decided to take a break from social media. Up until that point, I felt completely uninspired to share anything. I started haphazardly recycling older content just because I felt like I “had” to be on everyday. I reached a point where it no longer made me happy, and instead caused me more stress and anxiety. Why would I continue to do something that caused me unnecessary stress?
So in a moment, I decided to deactivate all of my social media accounts. They are still there, but for right now I decided that the best thing I could do for my mental health was to walk away. Will I return in the future? Maybe. But it will definitely be with a new set of boundaries (but I will admit I’ve been enjoying all the talking dog videos over on Tik Tok).
In addition, because of the limited social media usage I also managed to limit my intake of information. Now I know what you’re thinking, isn’t information a good thing? Not so much when you’re drowning in anxiety. I needed to walk away from taking in information from everyone with a computer or cellphone, and chose to be more mindful with how I gather information, and how much I consumed.
4. Focus on What You Can Control
If there’s one thing I struggled with in the past year, it was letting go of things outside of my control. Anxiety lives on a steady diet of control.
As a result, this past year I focused on aspects of life I could control, or atleast could have a little bit of impact on. I can control my self-talk, I can control my breath, I can control the way I perceive events, but the one thing I can’t control? Other people. As much as I wish I could control the way people act or treat others, that’s the one thing I just can not do.
In response, the one thing I focused on controlling was setting boundaries. I may not be able to make someone a decent person, but I can show them how I want to be treated by setting hard limits. That looked like standing up for myself, setting expectations, unfollowing people, limiting phone time, etc.
I found this great article on the 7 Things You Can Control in Life, it’s worth a read.
3. Get Your Priorities Straight
This past year I’ll admit I spent a lot of time on unhealthy coping mechanisms. Those sort of coping mechanisms that have always been there, but take some effort to manage. I will be the first one to admit that I feel backwards on a lot of the self-care strategies I use to manage my anxiety and wellness.
First and foremost, prioritizing sleep. I spent endless nights trying to escape the day mindlessly watching movies and tv late into the night, which totally messed up my circadian rhythm. I could fall asleep pretty easily, but woke up in the middle of the night just as easily. Stress didn’t help with that either. But all of the tools I have in my sleep toolbox stayed in the sleep toolbox. I lost sight of the basic things that are of priority to me, and my anxiety increased because of it.
Take a moment to write down a list of things that are important to you. Whether that’s getting more sleep, or getting exercise daily, make a list of the things that you see as high priority and how you plan to make space for them daily. Block out time on your schedule to take care of yourself.
2. It’s Ok to Enjoy a Cheat Meal Every Now and Then
Speaking of unnecessary stress, worrying about eating one meal out of the plan needs to be left in the past year. I can’t even begin to tell you how many pancake stacks I enjoyed last year and how freaking happy it made me. It had nothing to do with the carbs, or the sugar from the syrup, it was about treating myself to something I love. It was sitting down and enjoying quality time with my husband. Yeah my pants fit just a little bit tighter afterwards, but it was totally worth it.
1. Look After Your Mental Health
As someone who has struggled off and on with anxiety for many years, this past year challenged me more than ever. And I know I am not alone.
Our mental health and wellness is comparable to physical wellness. We go to the gym to get those banging abs or ridiculous legs, but how are we looking after our mental wellness? Mental wellness is a daily practice. Something I’ve worked on for many years. It’s much easier to fall back into unhealthy habits than it is to maintain a wellness practice.
Some of the ways to look after your mental health in the new year:
- Start a morning routine
- Start an evening routine
- Meditate daily
- Limit screen time
- Set boundaries
- Speak with a loved one or therapist
- Get in movement daily
I know that the world has been a lot to deal with lately. If you find yourself struggling, or find yourself waiting for the next bad thing to happen, you’re not alone. I wanted to share some of my favorite organizations for additional resources and learning for managing your mental health:
- National Alliance on Mental Illness – A grassroots mental health organization that works to advocate and educate on the stigma regarding mental illness
- Anxiety and Depression Organization of America – Non profit organization dedicating to providing resources for those struggling with mental illness ranging from anxiety and panic disorder to PTSD and depression.
- The Loveland Foundation – Provides resources and access to therapy for Black women and girls.
- National Social Anxiety Center – Provides resources and services for those struggling with social anxiety disorder
What are some of your favorite resources or organizations related to coping with anxiety? Leave them in the comments below!