I’ve really enjoyed introducing guest posts onto my blog from other amazing bloggers recently, with my latest one being this post on How To Deal With Grief This Christmas. I’ve also enjoyed writing guest posts for other people and sharing my writing with new audiences. I’m thrilled to have another fab guest post today from Nyxie’s Nook all about mental health lessons learned from 2020. Phew… where do we start?

Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash

Nyxie’s Nook is a blog I’ve been reading for AGES. She’s an incredible blogger, writer and mental health advocate, writing openly and honestly about recovery, eating disorders, self care and more. Before I even read this post I’m sharing with you today, I knew it’d be amazing. 2020 taught us all a LOT of important lessons – particularly about our own mental health and mindset.

A Guest Post From Nyxie’s Nook:

2020 was one of the most challenging years we’ve ever faced not only here in the UK, but worldwide. Yet, I’ve managed to find many valuable lessons and heal in more ways than ever before. While many have found this year to be brutal on their mental health, I’ve found it to be largely the opposite. Of course my anxiety is still as bad as ever, but it hasn’t been worsened and for that I’m entirely grateful.

When I left 2019 I was leaving behind a year full of tough decisions, gut wrenching heartache and I was struggling to find my place in the world. I expected 2020 to be ‘my year’, as one always does. It was meant to be the year that I beat anorexia nervosa for good, would begin to travel more and generally enjoy my life.

Although my travel plans didn’t make it past my driveway, and I’m still very much in recovery from anorexia nervosa, I somehow managed to find a part of myself that I’ve not seen in over sixteen years. In the face of a worldwide pandemic I was forced to slow down and was able to find my way back to a girl (now woman) that I had been missing for the majority of my adult life.

Photo by Julia Androshchuk on Unsplash

10 Important Lessons Learned from 2020

Your health is your wealth

Last year I was taught that I shouldn’t be embarrassed for wanting to protect my own health. This includes both mental and physical health. I’ve cancelled plans, stayed indoors more and even (begrudgingly) took six months of isolation just to protect myself and my family. The old me would have felt embarrassed and guilty, and don’t get me wrong, I did. But as time went on and it became apparent just how serious this all was, I saw it as a necessary step rather than something to be ashamed of.

But what has this taught me in the long run? It taught me that even when COVID-19 is a distant memory, it’s still important to look after you own health and wellbeing. There’s no shame in taking medication, nor is there shame in taking a day or two to cope with personal health issues. We should also be more understanding of each other and any hidden ailments others could be going through. Remember, all struggles aren’t necessarily visible.

You can do a lot more when you slow down than when you’re overworked

I’m just as shocked as you to hear that we can actually achieve a lot more by taking the time to slow down. There is such a thing as moderation, and the harder we push ourselves, the closer to burnout we get. It’s important to take time to relax, unwind and simply do nothing every once in a while. Without downtime we run the risk of not only increased levels of stress, but all the side effects that can come with it which can hinder our productivity in the long run.

When you’re off work, be off work. That includes putting down the phone or laptop, and taking time to do the things you enjoy. If work is something you enjoy, find something else to fill the gap.

Appreciate the time you have with loved ones. It’s not always guaranteed

This lesson actually came to me from a combination of both 2019 and 2020 when I lost three very important people to me within the space of 18 months. Now, more than ever before in our lives, we should be reminded of the fragility of human life. While many of us are lucky to see another day, it’s never a guarantee. When hugging becomes legal and spending time with loved ones isn’t risky, I personally can’t wait to gather with friends that I haven’t seen in well over a year. Nor can I wait to finally hug my grandmother without the fear of making her ill.

Life is about the little things

Never mind the big houses and fancy cars, life is about the small things. It’s about the things we take for granted, the flowers we don’t stop long enough to see and even the time spent cuddling with a pet. Sometimes it’s just about that extra long lie in on new year’s day, with a cup of coffee and a cat for comfort. As I’ve said on numerous occasions throughout, slow down and take time to just be.

You can’t control everything, everyone or every situation: Let it go

I’m a type A personality. I like to know what’s going on, when and how I can control it. Even when my grandparents were dying I was on the phone or by their bedside asking what I can do. What more can the doctors do? Have they tried, this, this or this? Despite not being even remotely qualified, surely Grey’s Anatomy counted for something, right? Although I’m able to handle my controlling nature more, I still find myself itching to take control of things my husband isn’t doing fast enough (or at all).

If you’re like me and find yourself rising to every occasion, even the ones that aren’t meant for you; Let it go. It serves us no good to try and control the world or the people around us. If anything, it leaves us with more stress and frustration and, ultimately, an uncomfortable life.

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries

It’s taken me until now to not only learn what boundaries are, but to learn how to implement them. I’ve watched as generational boundaries have been broken again and again in my family. As a daughter I was expected to continue to the tradition of ‘boundaries, what boundaries?’. But this year, with the help of COVID-19, I was able to begin to build boundaries not only for myself, but for the future generations.

It’s okay to say NO when you don’t want to do something or go somewhere. Equally it’s okay to say YES when everyone else is saying NO. Understand? Boundaries are all about protecting ourselves, whether that be from other people, from opinions or from events that may trigger a harmful emotional response. Although it won’t happen overnight, working to build your boundaries can start by simply saying NO, and progressing from there.

Sometimes you have to be the bigger person

Much like boundaries, sometimes it’s up to us to be the bigger person. Specifically when it comes to funds or arguments. It’s important that we take responsibility for any wrong actions on our part, but it’s also important to step away from those who no longer serve us. Many of us struggle with saying sorry or taking accountability. It’s human nature. But it takes a mature person to admit fault, apologies and make up, or cut off a relationship.

You can make do with a lot less than you think you can

2020 was the year of lockdowns. A year when we could no longer simply nip into town to do our shopping, or spend haphazardly. Some of us were made redundant, others were furloughed and some worked night and day to keep the world turning. No matter who you are, you have to do more with less. Less money, less freedom, less time with extended family, less food etc.

Although difficult for many, my husband and I learned that we can do more with the little food we have left. Instead of letting things go bad, we made soup and obscure dishes to keep us going. Instead of throwing things away, we started to think what else they could be used for who else would benefit?

Healing takes longer than you think

Healing is a journey. It’s not a destination, nor is there a timeframe on healing. It takes as long as it takes, and that might be different for every person and circumstance. Last year I took more time to heal and less time spent stressing over the little things. Although I’ve still got a ways to go, I’m able to see the distinct difference between past me and the woman I’m becoming.

I am stronger than I ever imagined

Finally, I think I’m not alone in saying that 2020 taught me that I can withstand and overcome far more than I ever could have imagined.

What has 2020 taught you? Are there any other important lessons that you’re carrying with you into 2021?

92 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post. Thank you for your honesty. Healing truly does take a lot longer than we think it should. I am learning that things are not always as they seem. 🌷https://thesoulwhispersblog.com/2021/04/15/there-is-more-to-it/

  2. When I started writing my comment I had to stop and think that I am talking to a person who already knows so much about this article and other things. I really liked your blog Jenny and have started following it. I would just say this is an excellent article that I am going to share on my blog. Have a good day.

  3. Love this post – I’ve recently started my own mental health blog Anxiety-Interrupted to try and help others who may be experiencing anxiety/depression- it’s been quite a year! This post has some brilliant tips and has inspired me to keep going with my own blog so thank you

  4. Lovely post. My upbringing left me well prepared for navigating the past year. I’m grateful every day for all that I have and while I didn’t need a pandemic to remind me, there have been many gifts in this particular challenge. 💜

  5. I believe the #1 thing anyone can do for their own Mental-Health is to become Completely Honest with Themselves! This opens up so many doors once you do it and I can Honestly say that less than 1% of Americans have done this!

    It is not something that easy to do because you have to admit to a lot of truths that will probably hurt! I explain how on my own blog! The Truth Has Never Been Clearer

    Have a Great Day! 🙂

  6. Amazing viewpoints! I’ve learned this past year to learn to let things go and be the bigger person in situations. It’s helped my relationship with my boyfriend tremendously and we’re in such a good place now since we handle our arguments and disagreements better. We’re both stubborn people and apologizing has never been one of my strong suits, but I’ve been improving and I could not be happier to where I am today!

  7. Great tips Jenny. I’m trying to stay positive as I can for my daughters, I worry about them a lot. My way of coping is to stay keep busy. I’ve written two books during this time which has helped. And developed new relationships in the writing and blogging community. I agree about enjoying the little things, we can be happy with very little. x

  8. I relate most with spending quality time with my family at home.

    The lockdown caused a lot of economic unrest though, bit I am grateful for my personal growth and milestones I was able to achieve together with my family and loved ones.

  9. “You can’t control everything” one thing I try to remind myself daily! And yesss to the loved ones, you really just never know. Thanks so much for sharing!

  10. Completely agree with the slowing down point. I’m the type of person who never takes any time off and ends up feeling burnt out and overwhelmed sometimes but 2020 definitely taught me that relaxing and taking time off is equally as productive!

    Tash – A Girl with a View

    1. You have literally told my life in 2020 in this post! Loved this and each point you made, I have had to learn all in 2020. Thanks so much for this❤

  11. I have been reading and appreciating your posts Jenny for quite a while now. This post by Nyxie’s Nook resonated on many levels. The year 2020 did leave us some precious life lessons that we wouldn’t have understood otherwise. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post.

  12. I really agree with the lesson #2 “You can do a lot more when you slow down than when you’re overworked” because I personally loved a quote from Stephen Covey (the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) “Fast is slow, and slow is fast. I truly believe that because when you slow down, you’ll have time to think of the smarter way to keep moving forward. Thanks for sharing this! 🥰

  13. A big thing 2020 taught me was how toxic physically going into my job was for my mental health. I knew I was unhappy, but I didn’t realize how much was going to be lifted by changing to remote work. Still grateful it was a job that could keep me on during these crazy times, but being at home has been incredibly positive for me.

  14. Loved reading this inspirational and encouraging post! It is awesome you are sharing and writing guest posts too; different people have different perspectives and often the differences are valuable!

    2020 taught so many lessons; mostly I click with the year having taught me that I am not alone in being stronger than I ever imagined.
    Thanks for sharing!

  15. It is so good to reflect on the positive. 2020 taught me that I was in fact stronger than I thought and that previous years that I thought were terrible, were in fact, not in comparison, so I should have valued them more.

  16. Oh I love this. It’s such a powerful piece and you raise really important topics. I’ve never considered the long-term effects this might have on our attitude towards health but that’s such an important point – and hopefully something we can take forward. A lot of these I need to work on more – thank you for the inspiration!

  17. I learnt so much from reading this post. I completely agree with slowing down a little, it really does work! 2020 was a crazy year for us all, I lost my Grandad at the end of 2019 so 2020 was a lot harder, healing certainly takes a lot longer than we think!

  18. The reward is the journey right?! 🙂 Beautiful pics btw – a very calming space so thank you for this ❤️

  19. These are some great lessons. I completely agree that you can achieve so much more if you slow down a bit. I feel I can concentrate and give my all to everything whilst not suffering from burnout and I’m loving the results.

  20. I really appreciate these tips. The one thing that was highlighted to me in the past year was how precious your health really is and how important your mental health is. Thanks for sharing.

  21. I love these lessons, and they’re all so important 🙂 I think that it’s so important to remember that being healthy is indeed being wealthy, and we all need to invest in our health- mental and physical x

  22. 2020 taught me so much I can’t even put it into words. It was a relentlessly difficult year (aside from Covid but that certainly hasn’t helped) and is continuing in the same way for 2021 but I’m ready for what is to come — great tips and post. Thanks for sharing!

  23. I hadn’t spoken to my mum (who lives in Spain) for 4 years. When things started to get bad, I just called her. What had gone on in the past wasn’t important any more, I needed my mum in this terrifying situation. Family is a priority.

  24. This post was a great read! Boundaries and being stronger than imagined were surely something I learned last year and also this weird time has been helpful in getting to know myself better! Thanks for sharing x

  25. I love these tips! I have been extremly careful for the past year and sometimes I get so upset because I haven’t been able to go out and meet up with some of my coursemates but I don’t want to end up in hospital so that’s just the way it has to be. I took the first lockdown to really focus and improve my mental health and it honestly did wonders. Giving myself some ‘me time’ to focus on what I enjoy doing was so worthwhile and I’m so glad that I had that time. xx

  26. So many great tips in this post. 20202 was such a tough year but it was also a great excuse to wipe the slate clean and focus on myself without feeling selfish. I have put myself first in my career and with others and I now feel better than ever!

    Rosie

  27. This is incredible to read Nyxie, I feel like 2020 has been huge for you, Much like Jenny and her year, It has been incredible to watch the changes for you both.

    2020 is the year that changed everything for everyone, I have learnt so much about myself, about how I feel and what really matters to me. I just hope we all move forward to ‘normality’ with a much better frame of mind, enjoying the elements of lock down that have been huge for our self improvement. I will be moving forward at a slower, more measured pace and practicing gratitude every day.

    Brilliant post x

    1. Exaclty! 2020 made me feel like I lost an entire year of my life. Eve when I celebrated my birthday if recent, I wasn’t happy with myself and where I am right now. I hope to work super hard and get back my confidence.

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