Entertainment

Why 2020 has been a gift to us, despite the COVID-19 chaos

Despite the mental and physical chaos 2020 has brought due to the global outbreak of COVID-19, there’s an upside to this year that no one’s talking about – and it’s time you realised it.

We had high hopes for 2020, but it’s safe to say it’s been memorable for all the wrong reasons. For Aussies, the year kicked off with the devastating bushfires, followed by flooding and then the worst hit – the coronavirus.

State borders closed, businesses were forced to shut down and our country was placed into lockdown for the first time in history. Among this chaos, millions of Australians lost their jobs and thousands of others suffered pay cuts. Domestic violence cases increased, relationships were tested, and while sitting at home day-in day-out, our mental health took a heavy toll.

Now, COVID restriction are slowly starting to easy across the nation and a sense of normality is being reintroduced back into the community, but the current situation overseas is still morbid as countries are experiencing a second wave of coronavirus and the global death toll continues to rise by the day.

Yes, this year has brought – and is still bringing – emotional and physical stress, but journalist and author of newly released book ‘Balance and Other BS’, Felicity Harley, says there is a huge upside to this year that no one is talking about.

Speaking on the latest episode of Healthy-ish ‘Why does ‘normal life’ feel so strange?’, Felicity says the forced time in isolation allowed her to re-evaluate her life pre-corona.

“I shouldn’t complain because it was messy but there were wonderful lovely things that united our family,” she tells co-hosts Dr Andrew Rochford and Maz Compton.

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Felicity explains she had deep conversations with her husband she “wouldn’t have had in a long, long time”, and had the time to actually sit down with her three children to play board games and Scrabble.

It also helped her develop a newfound appreciation for connection.

“We all know that there’s that great Harvard study that follows people over 80 years that proves that the number one thing that helps you live a meaningful life is actually your connection with other humans,” she adds.

Being forced to self-isolate made her want to “pick up the phone a bit more”. “I just wanted to hear people’s voices and obviously you’ve got zoom calls, but more for my friends was calling instead of just texting, so I’ve got into this new habit of calling people.”

Yes, “there was joy in the mess”, but it was still “a time of so many feelings”.

“We experienced all these feeling we never experienced before. I experienced true heartbreak seeing all the news from the US. It was gut wrenching but then suddenly I’d feel so grateful that we live in Australia and not many people died. So you’d have these days were emotionally I was thinking it’s all great, I was feeling joy and happiness because we still had an income coming in – and then I’d hear about a friend who lost a job and it was just a bit of a roller coaster in many ways.”

However, 2020 has given us an opportunity to create a new healthier, more balanced and happier ‘new normal’.

“I’m just thinking about all the things I enjoyed in iso, all the things I haven’t enjoyed in my past life and taking them to this ‘new normal’ – whatever that may be.”

While she’s still “quite unsure of what that looks like”, Felicity is making the most of the present and taking this as an opportunity for a fresh start – something she wants everyone to adopt.

“Just focus on what you really enjoyed about your time in iso and then think about what you hated about your time before iso, and then what you can take into your ‘new normal’.”

Think of it this way: when’s the next time you’ll get a moment to change and reflect?