Here's how to reflect on 2020, look forward to the new year: Windsor psychologist

·4 min read

"Unprecedented."

It's a word that's been used over and over again to describe what has unfolded in 2020.

And as this unusual and taxing year comes to an end, many may be looking back on this trip around the sun a little differently than others, according to a Windsor clinical psychologist.

Andrew Taylor, who works at Paragon Psychological Services in Windsor, says it's likely that people are looking back on the uncertainty of this year and realizing how their innate sense of control has been "shaken."

This alone, he says, might alter their feelings of hope or control for the upcoming year.

"When you have big events like this ... it attacks that internal belief that there's a right recipe and we're okay. It demonstrates the little bit of chaos that life has," he said.

But like any big event in one's life, Taylor said, these moments put into perspective what truly matters.

Katerina Georgieva/CBC
Katerina Georgieva/CBC

"When you have big events, that gives you that opportunity to stop and look and rank order everything. We're coming through a year of a global pandemic ... that has a really big potential to allow us to step back and look and say 'ok all these things that I thought were so important in my life, prior to 2020, how do they rank now?" he said. "What matters? ... I think that's a really healthy way to get control."

And when it comes to making resolutions for the new year, Taylor said it's understandable that the unknown of what's to come can bring about anxiety or feelings of hopelessness.

But for 2021, he suggests focusing on what you can control: the present.

"What in my life can I actually do? It can be on a small level, in terms of putting my attention back to my day-to-day activities that I can actually impact, on a grander scale which I think has even more meaning in terms of looking at my life and using this as a point to reflect," he said.

"Things that aren't really relevant, this is an opportunity to let them go because you're seeing that when actually push comes to shove, a lot of those things that would cause us in the moment a lot of distress don't matter at all and I think going forward that gives you a chance to change your life for the better."

Windsorites share 2020 lessons, 2021 hopes

Joe Mcintosh told CBC News that his new year's resolution is to do what he can to make things better for the world — it's one that's a little different than his previous resolutions, as it's not a personal hope.

"Before that I wanted this for me, that for me, but yeah I think that nowadays the world is more important than just me," he said.

Mike Evans/CBC
Mike Evans/CBC

Instead of travelling abroad, as he's done in previous years, Mcintosh says he'd just like to go see his daughter who lives in Calgary, as it's the longest they've been apart.

"I would want to go see her," he said. "I really would like to drive out to see her."

Meanwhile, volunteer Lisa Renaud is hoping to slow down a bit more in 2021 and catch up on her personal life.

Unlike many others, Renaud said in 2020 she was "busier than ever" as she spends her time helping others and this year, there was no shortage of people needing help.

Between making porch deliveries to helping collect items for the June 27 Miracle food drive, Renaud said she's looking forward to actually spending time in her home and "do better."

"I've let my personal space and my home life kind of get out of bounds because I spend so much time outside of the home taking care of others," she said. "I could be spending more time here, I could be doing better with organizing ... and there's always more to be done in the community."

Looking back on the year, Kat Coughlin says it brought her family together.

"It's been a good time for us to spend time together, went on lots of family hikes ... exploring local trails and stuff like that," she said.

Jacob Barker/CBC
Jacob Barker/CBC

As for what she's looking forward to in 2021, Coughlin simply said "the vaccine," with a laugh.

"Not going to lie, that's pretty exciting," she said, adding she hopes that she and her kids can get out skating again.

Meanwhile, her New Year's resolutions focus on continuing to train for a half marathon and "work on being a more patient person again ... [it's] hard to be patient when we're in the house all the time."