Lessons from a challenging 2021

December 20, 2021

Australians have been through a tumultuous time. 2021 will be a year to remember and not always for the best reasons. But while it is easy to get bogged down in all those negative memories and associated worry for the future, is it important to reflect as well. What lessons can be learned from this landmark year which can be applied now and into the future?

The growing wildfire threat

The bushfire seasons of 2019 and 2020 were nothing short of devastating. With homes lost and people displaced, people may fear for the future when it comes to warming trends and further outbreaks. More homes were consumed by wildfires in early 2021, especially along the West Coast of Australia, with hot temperatures, extremely dry vegetation and no rain to speak of major talking points. These wildfires displaced communities that were already struggling with quarantining from the ongoing coronavirus.

Pandemic induced lockdowns

And if the wildfires weren’t enough, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic drew people into their homes and away from meaningful connection. Lockdowns were the order of the day, and in many cases, these were to go on for a considerable time. The stay at home orders would lead to a build-up of stress and situations that most families had never experienced before.

Adaptability to the fore

Yet, people are nothing if not adaptable and have the capability to accept situations and accommodate. And this type of tenacity was firmly on display as lockdowns continued and as people learned to deal with what they had.

Lessons from lockdown

So what exactly can be learned here?

To begin, take a moment to compare life during lockdown with life before.

Previously, everything was defined by the daily rush. People had so much on their plates that they did not have enough time for each other, as they tried to balance work or school with social obligations and a dwindling amount of sleep. They would take full advantage of the latest technology to keep in touch rather than any one-to-one personal connection. And while this was an advantage if they didn’t have enough time, it was hardly likely to bring them closer together.

During the lockdown, much of this changed – and very quickly. Suddenly, immediate families were around each other more than ever before and gradually began to rekindle their social skills. Those individual tech gadgets were still there, of course, but there was less incentive to use them and more incentive to take part in “off-line” pursuits like baking, gardening, game playing, or simply engaging in the age-old art of conversation.

How to move ahead

To take the positive elements of 2021 forward, it’s important to remember the good things.

  • Continue to slow down where at all possible. Don’t make the same mistake as pre-lockdown and overschedule.
  • Be sure to create those important opportunities for family – meals, a footy game in the backyard or a quick game of monopoly (if there’s such a thing!)
  • Get even closer to nature. We are spoilt for choice in Australia and many of us have discovered pockets in our local areas during lockdown that are absolutely worth re-exploring.
  • Try to cycle or walk to school or work (with the added benefit of reducing your carbon footprint). Walking and cycling boost health, as well as the connection between mind and body, allowing you to develop a deeper mindset. These new modes of transportation allow more time for personal reflection, which can only be a good thing.

And remember, you don’t need to make time for everyone and everything. Learn to say no if necessary, and it will give you more time to enjoy the finer things. There’s no need to get back to the old routine but plenty of need to engage with family members and loved ones.

Likewise, don’t feel the need to rush out and buy the next new “thing” simply because others may be tempted. Life during lockdown was a lot simpler and cheaper in many ways, and it may be advantageous to keep it that way.

The biggest takeaway

Why rush back to life in the fast lane when it is not absolutely necessary? If the opportunity becomes available, continue to work from home if it suits you and explore what work/life balance suits you and your situation best. This may allow for more time to bond with family members and celebrate what is truly good about life.

From all of us at CatholicCare, high fives for making it through a very tough year. Remember we are here to help when things get tough and have a range of services on offer. Our door is open – come on in and find out how we can help.

We wish you the very best for 2022. 



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