Who do you know that can offer the best version of themselves, right now, during the pandemic?
This question tends to frequent my conversations with friends, and the answer is always, “No one”. So, if there is already an understanding that no one is embodying the most optimal version of themselves, why are we not crediting ourselves for the feat of survival? Why is it that survival itself is not a privilege and success?
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak and global shutdown, the World Health Organization declared that depression was the number one Neuropsychiatric disorder, pointing out that neuropsychiatric disorders are the leading cause of disability in the world. 264 million people suffer from depression globally; and this was prior to economic shutdowns, and the end of public gatherings. Music festivals, weekly religious meetings, in-person schooling...vanished within days. In nearly 10 months, entire realities were obliterated. So where 264 million people were living with depression before, one can only imagine how astronomical that value is now.
Everyone does not have depression--no, however, every person on this planet lost something due to the pandemic. Each person had to change their way of life...and if you haven’t, go ahead and stop reading this post and wash your hands. Seriously.
As a society, small victories are commonly overlooked, but that is not to say that we can’t change the narrative. Did you wake up to one of your 5 alarms set today? Win! Did you reach out to someone you loved? Are you still maintaining an element of your life pre-quarantine? Gold stars for everyone with their cameras on in lecture. I’m positive that your mind drifted to think of some other activity like Zoom calling your family this past holiday season and doing drive-by birthdays, and I want to encourage you to dwell in those moments, and pat yourself on the back.
There are so many uncertainties regarding the “end” or return to normalcy, so we must do what we as humans do best -- adapt. Our great-great grandparents were faced with airborne diseases throughout the entirety of their lifespans, and it’s crucial to take the reins on our lives and control the things that we can. Negative thoughts and emotions impact our health, and several scientific studies back the fact that stress can decrease lifespans by shortening our telomeres, or ends of our DNA strands.**
While life continues to whirl, what can you do differently to observe and appreciate yourself? Who’s to say that you are not performing adequately...to what standard? All pre-existing expectations externally and internally need to shift with the times to create an overall positive sentiment in the lives of each of us. There is a lot we cannot control, but there are SO many things that we can. You’ve got this. You are already doing amazing things, give yourself the appreciation you deserve.
With the New Year upon us, clouds of doubt tend to swarm, but we have the power to stop them from overpowering us and distracting us from moving forward. This New Year's Eve, I got the chance to do something new and reflect on the year coming to an end and express our excitement for what lay in front of us.
We went old school and took out pieces of notebook paper and split it down the middle. To the left, we wrote down our lessons of 2020. To the right, we wrote down the life we were manifesting ourselves to embody by the end of 2021. We each read them out loud to each other, and spoke positivity and excitement over each of our friends' dreams. If there is one thing 2020 taught me, I learned that I cannot necessarily prepare myself for the test life will throw, but I do have the power to control how I learn from it, live through it, and how I move forward. The challenges of life only prepare us to best receive the blessings and opportunities that lay ahead.
So when you look back on 2020, what lessons have you learned? What new reality did you see? And when you look to the future, where do you see yourself. Write it down! You are more powerful and in control than you may think.
Peace and blessings.
Happy New Year!
"Telomeres are a protective casing at the end of a strand of DNA. Each time a cell divides, it loses a bit of its telomeres. An enzyme called telomerase can replenish it, but chronic stress and cortisol exposure decrease your supply. When the telomere is too diminished, the cell often dies or becomes pro-inflammatory. This sets the aging process in motion, along with associated health risks." (APA)