Recovering from 2020: 20 Things We Learned from the Worst Year Ever

Recovering from 2020: 20 Things We Learned from the Worst Year Ever

We had such high hopes for 2020. It certainly had a great ring to it! The year was full of promise with the Summer Olympics and a presidential election to look forward to. It was supposed to be a remarkable year. But as with everything in life, unexpected things can happen. There’s no denying that 2020 threw us some major curve balls, forcing us to face problems we could have never seen coming. Nobody can prepare for a pandemic, but we can learn from it. 

So, maybe 2020 wasn’t the WORST year ever, but we can all agree it’s been one of the toughest in recent memory. Even without rehashing everything that has happened (it’s still too soon), it’s easy to get caught up in the bad things we’ve been through and forget to look for the good. If you have a bullet journal and practice this important form of self-care, you can go back through the year and reminisce about all your small and large wins. 

This “look on the bright side” mentality doesn’t make the hard times easier, though. In fact, if you’re looking to support someone who is depressed, we recommend never saying such kinds of phrases. Revisiting personal goals you’ve accomplished may help you feel empowered and successful. It can also provide some important perspective that reveals a thing or two about yourself and what you’re capable of.

If you didn’t journal to improve your mental health, we recommend adding that to your list of 2021 New Year’s resolutions. Bullet journals are part planner, part to-do list, and part diary. They’re designed to not only keep you organized, but to help you to confront and release negative emotions. Studies show journaling can significantly decrease your depression symptoms by providing a way to track your mood and energy levels and note specific triggers hiding in your daily routine.

For those who are unable to track their personal journey this year, here are 20 things we learned, or learned to appreciate, in the upheaval that has been 2020:

  1. You are stronger than you think – You made it to December, and the new, hopefully better year is days away.
  2. To reconnect with ourselves – Perhaps the solitude recharged you, and the extra time on your hands allowed you to discover new things. Maybe the hard times acted as a check engine light, giving you a heads up that changes needed to be made.
  3. To appreciate things more – From teachers to doctors to grocery store workers, underappreciated services and essential workers had been taken for granted. 2020 reminded us of the privilege it is to have them to help make our lives a little easier.   
  4. Be prepared – How could you have known a pandemic would hit? The truth is, you can never be fully prepared for any unpredictable event. But you can make a strategic, flexible plan to avoid potential pitfalls. 
  5. Be flexible – If you can’t bend, you’ll break. If Plan A falls through, make sure there’s a Plan B and C.
  6. Take advantage of the situation – It’s hard to think about anyone prospering in the wake of a pandemic, but it’s also encouraging to see entrepreneurs make lemonade out of lemons.
  7. The importance of structure – Whether you’re used to working from home or not, many people are surprised that, after a while, it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Working in pajamas with no routine impacts your overall productivity. Following a structure, even if you’re at home all the time, is essential for mental health.  
  8. New regulation ideas for our mental health arsenal – With a lot of time in self-quarantine, people took up baking, yoga, exercise, etc. Spending time on an activity that you enjoy can improve your mental health. If you need some inspiration, this quarantine bucket list can be done during any time of the year in sunny southern California.
  9. Self-care is healthcare – The wear and tear of this year has wreaked havoc on our mental and physical wellbeing. We created a mental health checklist to help you focus on yourself.
  10. The importance of a village – Self-isolation was lonely, but not everyone has family and friends to turn to for support. Sometimes, you have to create your own village, and that could mean finding support in virtual groups. Not all support looks the same, but every bit counts.
  11. Communities came together – Systemic racial inequality was brought to light, and we stood together with our communities in solidarity. Alongside our neighbors, we continue the fight to raise awareness of mental health and its effect on BIPOC in hopes of making a change.
  12. The benefit of fighting for a cause – Wear a mask and save a life. Joining a cause has helped put responsibility on ourselves, which in turn has helped us feel in control during these unprecedented times.  
  13. Not all relationships suffered; some got stronger – Quarantine has been hard on relationships, but if you were able to see things through, you may feel your relationship is stronger because of it. 
  14. We needed a break from highlight reels – For the first time in a long time, we were all in the same boat. Nobody was traveling. Nobody was gathering. We let our appearance grow more natural and authentic. It was a nice reminder to take a break from the comparison game once in a while.
  15. We handle difficult times differently, and that’s okay – People were angry, scared, and sad. At the same time, funny memes making light of hard times flourished. Each of us has a unique way of coping.
  16. The importance of giving yourself grace – Some days, the name of the game is survival. It’s easy to be hard on yourself; it’s harder to give yourself the kindness you deserve.
  17. We needed a break from work – The pandemic affected many businesses both large and small. If there could be a silver lining to this, it might be that you got to spend time away from work, a major contributing stress factor.
  18. Things got dark before they got better – Perhaps you had become accustomed to living with anxiety and mild depression before the pandemic hit, but it took this crisis exacerbating your condition to push you to finally seek help and recover.
  19. The natural world thrived – In a win for the earth, there was a resurgence of wildlife and changes to pollution and air quality as a result of lockdowns and limited travel.  
  20. We are resilient – Many people have found inner strength they didn’t know they had. You will take these lessons with you into the new year and throughout life. If you don’t feel like you’re recovering from the difficulties of 2020, give us a call.


It’s easy to analyze everything that went wrong this year. Be kind to yourself--you did the best you could at the time. If it wasn’t your best, you know what to do next time. Remember, hindsight really is—get ready for it—20/20.


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