2022 looks set to be another unique year. Here in the UK, covidwise, we start the year arguably in a better place than 2021. As Omicron continues, it’s becoming the new normal to take a lateral flow test before meeting family and friends.
But many of us are still anxious about covid, finding and keeping work and the increasing cost of living.
But this year children have gone back to school and hospitality continues to remain open. These are sentences I never thought I would have to think, say or write.
We now expect the unexpected. What will the next announcement say? How long do we need to self-isolate for now? Should we risk booking holidays abroad?
Keeping a safe distance when talking to people has become automatic. We either don’t embrace the friends and family we used to, or tentatively check with them first. The lack of physical connection and reduction in social contact has led to isolation in older people especially, and an increase in online interaction compared to face-to-face for younger people.
It’s hard to tell exactly what the consequences of these changing behaviours are in the long term but early indications show them to be detrimental, the mental health of young people being particularly affected.
So, we start 2022 with inevitable mixed feelings. Hope that we are out of the worst of the pandemic and hope that we will be able to settle into a structure, routine, and familiarity. This helps us feel safe and secure.
I’m reminded of Maslow’s pyramid of Hierarchy of Needs where the base need is physiological (food, clothing, shelter), moving up to safety (job security and health), then social needs (love and relationships), then esteem (belief in self) and finally self-actualization (living an authentic life).
At the beginning of the pandemic, we witnessed genuine fear that our basic needs might not be met: remember the empty shelves as people hoarded supplies leaving nothing for others? Such is the primal need for survival. Then came job losses and people unable to pay rent or mortgage.
As we continue to emerge from the fog of the recent past, we can start or continue to reflect on this hierarchy of needs:
Maybe this is the time for some reflection…
Maybe this year is the year for asking larger questions…
What’s important to me now?
Am I in the right relationship?
Do I need to change where I live?
Or how I earn a living?
Is it time to rethink some of our friendships and relationships? Make more effort in others?
How is our health?
Do we need to spend more time looking after ourselves?
Self-actualization is at the peak of Maslow’s pyramid. Maslow (1943) describes this level as ‘the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the most that one can be’. This may feel like a long way off. But maybe we can just think of a few small things we can concentrate on this year to help us live more at ease with 2022.