There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a challenging year, not only for those of us working in healthcare but for everyone who has been impacted by COVID-19.
If you don’t feel like “reflecting” on 2020, that’s understandable — after all, this year has brought a lot of stress and uncertainty into many of our lives. But it’s important to take time to process how our lives have changed, cherish the positive moments, and set intentions for 2021.
Challenges of 2020
People working in healthcare faced a serious test of resilience, empathy, and adaptability this year. COVID-19 put many healthcare professionals under intense pressure to care for and reassure patients while dealing with their own personal feelings of uncertainty.
Change, and reacting to change, has been a constant theme this year. At Vera, we’ve adapted to changes in healthcare policy, expanded our capacity for virtual care, shifted our field support teams to remote work, and made many other internal changes to keep our patients and team engaged and safe. That’s been our guiding light throughout this year.
On the surface, it may seem like we’re all dealing with the same common challenges: safety, social distancing, working from home, being separated from family members and friends, or missing activities that we can’t do anymore.
But one of the biggest lessons our team has learned this year is the importance of being patient with ourselves, each other, and our members. Everyone has a different level of resilience to change and that’s okay. A change that feels manageable for one person might feel overwhelming for someone else.
As you look back on 2020, try to resist the urge to compare yourself to how other people appear to be doing. You might be dealing with issues that others can’t see and they may be struggling with things that you can’t see either. It’s important for us to be mindful of this so we’re better positioned to practice empathy with others. And, mindfulness empowers you to care for yourself in a healthier way.
Reflecting on 2020
Self-reflection is especially important this year. For some people, 2020 has been painful or even devastating — but in spite of that, we’ve all shown strength and growth. Take some time to think about the moments when you’ve risen to the challenge this year. Celebrate those moments and think about how you can build on the personal growth you’ve achieved.
Sometimes, you just need to vent before you can move forward. As you reflect on 2020, it helps to talk things through with someone who can help you process and plan.
Our Vera whole health coaches have the opportunity to be a listening ear for members, help them set goals, and practice self-care. Our behavioral health providers are also key resources of additional support to help people process 2020 and move forward into 2021.
Setting intentions for 2021
After a tough year, the thought of a new year and a fresh start can be comforting and even exciting. Many people are thinking about what they want their New Year’s resolutions to be. Others are just hoping that their work lives or family rhythms will start to feel more normal again. Here are some guiding principles that I use as a health coach to help people meet their personal goals.
1. Focus on one realistic goal at a time
A big part of the health coach’s role is to help people identify the goals that they want to set and help them pursue those goals in a realistic and sustainable way. One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is to focus on one major topic at a time. Once you’ve accomplished a goal, you’ll be ready to channel that energy in a new direction.
For example, if your goal is to “practice mindfulness,” it can be difficult to know where to start or to feel a sense of accomplishment that comes with achieving a targeted goal. It might help to shift your goal towards something more specific, like “meditate for 10 minutes on Monday morning.” Then, once you incorporate that habit into your life, you can expand your goal and try meditating for 10 minutes every day.
2. Identify tangible steps to get to your goal
There’s nothing wrong with setting an ambitious goal but make sure you spend some time thinking about how you’re going to get there. It helps to break up that process into a series of steps or checkpoints. Then you can move forward on your goal one step at a time and celebrate every step.
So, if your goal is to meditate for 10 minutes every Monday morning, take some time to think about the steps you need to get there: for example, setting your alarm a little bit earlier, letting your family know you’ll need some time without interruptions, or choosing an app to guide you through your first meditation.
3. Avoid an all-or-nothing mindset
When we set an ambitious goal and don’t achieve it right away, it can be discouraging. Rather than striving for perfection and then labelling your effort as a “failure,” try thinking about it a different way. Acknowledge what you did achieve and what you learned and continue to build off it.
If Monday rolls around, and you don’t have time for your 10-minute meditation, there’s no need to feel like you failed. In fact, it’s an opportunity to identify a new tangible step you might need to incorporate. What prevented you from completing the meditation? What might you try differently next Monday?
4. Have self-compassion
If your progress on a goal is causing you to feel negative about yourself, remember that self-compassion will get you further than self-judgment. 2021 will bring challenges of its own, so be prepared to take time to recharge through self-care.