The last few years have been very challenging.
The pandemic. The individual responsibility of complying with the restrictions that were necessary, adhering to vaccination and, in recent times, following the recommendations.
The risks to which we have been exposed, the fear of getting sick or that other people will get sick, social restrictions with a significant impact on life, often to the detriment of interpersonal relationships and family dynamics.
Interruptions and changes in working models. Remote and hybrid work and the need to adapt and manage work demands. For people. By the leaders. By organizations.
The losses. Yes, it is necessary to talk about what was lost. Many people lost their jobs. Many people have seen their health come into question. Many people stopped being with the important people, in particular the elderly. Many people have lost family members and/or friends and still haven't had the opportunity to experience their grief.
However, opportunities also arose that otherwise would not have happened. Some employment opportunities. Others within the scope of work-family conciliation. Many opportunities with the use of technologies.
When the pandemic started to get under control, we started to pay more attention to what was going on internationally.
A war. And, of course, the large-scale consequences of that very war. So far away, yet so close to us. The economic and financial crisis. Inside our home, with a daily impact on everyone, some more than others.
However, if the last few years have brought us difficulties, they have also brought us important challenges for a future that is already happening.
To highlight just a few. Healthy work environments, with the four-day workweek and its impact, among others, on productivity, mental health, well-being and quality of life at work. The importance of promoting mental health in schools, from pre-school education. The importance of timely action to prevent violence and crime, which we know to increase in times of crisis.
A factor common to all of this, widely studied by the Psychological Sciences, is the ability that many people have to, despite difficulties, adapt to difficult circumstances and, in some cases, overcome themselves and flourish. At the same time, social support, which also plays an important role in adapting to difficult situations. On the one hand, because it contributes to acquiring skills and opportunities. On the other hand, because it fulfills an emotional function and of sharing experiences.
What then can be our biggest challenge right now?
We become better people. From our experiences, for example, with the pandemic and the crisis we are experiencing. Based on our characteristics and previous experiences.
Because challenging situations bring out what's in us. Worse. And also the best.
This Christmas will not be the same as the previous ones.
Let's enjoy this Christmas with the people who are important to us. To listen and give. To feel. To be present. To do our best.
Let us take advantage of this period to reflect on our individual contribution to a better world.
Because the future is made by each one of us.
Happy Holidays to everyone!
Author: Marina Carvalho is a psychologist, specialist in Clinical and Health Psychology and in Psychotherapies.
Director of the Department of Psychology and Physical Education at ISMAT.
Main Health Assistant in the CHUA Psychiatry Service – Portimão Unit.
Integrated Researcher at the Institute of Environmental Health – Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon.