How To Make Sense Of 2020

A processing guide to sort through the strangest year of your life.

Do you feel a bit off but cannot put your finger on exactly why? Does it feel like you are on a highway driving 60 mph and everyone else is passing you at 80mph?  Do not worry, that is normal. You are normal. 

The world has been through a collective trauma.  We have been through a collective trauma. 

photo of person driving. This reflects the concept of feeling lost after the world reopens.
Photo by Peter Fazekas on

In March of 2020, the world changed in ways so radical we will grapple with them for decades to come. This may seem like a dramatic statement because so many of us are counting our blessings.  However, just because you kept your job or did not get sick, does not mean you are not suffering the weight of it all.  Gratitude is wonderful; however, we need to also process what happened.   I am hoping this guide helps.  Ideally, you will find a quiet space both figuratively and literally to ponder these questions. If not, they are still worth considering.  If time is limited, you can do one at a time.  It may take you an afternoon or a year.  Please move at your own pace. Maybe this guide won’t be your cup of tea at all.  If so, that is ok, find a different way to make sense of it all. 

A. Picture yourself when you first realized this was going to be a huge deal.  Where were you?  What was a typical outfit you would have been wearing then?  It may not be an exact moment but get yourself back in time. 

  • 1. What was your first reaction?
  • 2. What was your biggest fear?
  • 3. Who did you lean on for support or commiseration?
  • 4. What were some things you did to keep yourself or your family safe?
  • 5. What are 3 words that would describe you in those moments?

B. Think about the summer of 2020. Put yourself in the moment. Picture where you were and who you were with most of the time.

  1. How did  you adapt to live with Covid? 
  2. What were the highs and lows of that summer? 
  3. How did you respond to the murder of George Floyd and resulting civil unrest? 
  4. What was your overriding emotion that summer? 
  5. If someone had filmed you, how would you have appeared?

C. Move into Fall of 2020. 

  1. What did that look like for you logistically? Were you still working from home? If you have kids, were they in school?
  2. How did you feel about the continued shutdowns?
  3. Who was your support? How did you receive it and give it?
  4. What 3 words would a bystander use to describe you at that time? Would they be congruent with what you were actually experiencing internally?
person standing on fallen leaves
Photo by Cori Rodriguez on

 D. Welcome 2021

  1. How did your outlook change (or not change) into the New Year? 
  2. How did you feel about the vaccine? 
  3. How big a part of your mental continuum were social justice issues? 
  4. What were you most proud of (in regards to yourself, your family, your community, your country) at that point? 
  5. What did you fear the most? 

E. Spring 2021: A full year later.  

  1. How are you different?
  2. What positive traits/qualities about yourself were you able to maintain through all of this? 
  3. What have you learned about yourself?
  4. What are you most proud of (in yourself, your family, your community, your country)?
  5. Moving forward: what will be different about how you move through the world?  What actions, thoughts, outlooks have changed? 
dandelion flower on orange background. they represent how your life can bloom with doing self work. Nurtured Well helps women in Maryland blossom through good mental health care.
Photo by Fida Kettunen on

There are no right or wrong answers here.  No answer is too shallow or too deep. The idea is to spend time tuning into the experience you had, not come up with some great epiphany. Everyone’s experience is unique and worthy of validating.  More importantly, your experience will shape you for the rest of your life, whether you choose to process it or not. 

Nurtured Well, LLC offers help for women throughout Maryland and D.C. through in person and on-line help with stress, anxiety, and depression. Sharon Fisher, PMHNP-BC, PMH-C, is available for speaking engagements.

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