It has long been my practice to write a column in January reflecting on events of the past year.
This January, it is hard to narrow down the words that I have to describe last year: surreal, exhausting … a dumpster fire.
Who would have dreamed we would face a pandemic, an uprising and a country divided in 12 short months? One day we were watching Shakira and Jennifer Lopez gyrate at the Super Bowl and the next day we were scouring grocery store shelves for toilet paper and bread flour.
It’s almost impossible to narrow down, but here are the dates that will live in my memory from 2020:
• Jan. 21 – The CDC confirms the first case of coronavirus in the United States.
• Jan. 26 – NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter are among nine people killed in a helicopter crash.
• Feb. 5 – The Senate votes to acquit President Trump on two articles of impeachment.
• March 3 – Louisville Metro Police fatally shoot Breonna Taylor.
• May 25 – George Floyd dies after a Minneapolis police officer uses his leg to pin Floyd’s neck to the ground for nearly 9 minutes.
• May 27 – The United States surpasses 100,000 coronavirus deaths.
• June 7 – Cristobal makes landfall in Louisiana.
• June 30 – Gov. Tate Reeves signs the bill removing the Confederate battle flag emblem from our state flag.
• Aug. 27 – Hurricane Laura kills 30 people.
• Sept. 16 – Hurricane Sally strengthens to a Category 2 before making landfall near Gulf Shores.
• Sept. 22 – The United States surpasses 200,000 coronavirus deaths.
• Sept. 29 – The first presidential debate takes place.
• Oct. 9 – Hurricane Delta makes landfall near Creole, Louisiana.
• Oct. 19 – The Commission on Presidential Debates announces Biden and Trump will have their microphones muted during portions of the second presidential debate.
• Nov. 7 – CNN projects Biden is elected the 46th president of the United States.
• Dec. 31 – The United States sees more than 3,000,000 deaths for 2020, the largest number ever measured and almost 400,000 over 2019.
No doubt your list of key dates will be different than mine; it was that kind of year. We all hoped that 2021 would bring peace, but, apparent after two weeks, we are a long way from finished with the insanity. We are all tired, but we are still here, and we can do this.
The CDC has advice on how to cope. First, they suggest we pause, breathe and take time to notice how we feel. Deep breaths, stretching and meditation can help us let go of hurtful feelings.
Next, they advise taking breaks from upsetting content, especially before bedtime. It’s hard to do when our nation’s capital is being invaded, but you can catch up on the latest disaster in the morning.
Third, they advise us to take care of our bodies. Regular exercise, plenty of sleep, and healthy, well-balanced meals will lesson anxiety and flood us with helpful endorphins. They also say to avoid alcohol and drugs, but surely a glass of wine is helpful?
Finally, they urge us to reach out and stay connected. Touching bases with family and friends helps us avoid feeling lonely and disconnected. And never resist seeking help if you feel overwhelmed or unsafe. We are all in this together, and we are lucky to have robust mental health resources to help us take care of our emotional health.
Be good to you and yours, take care and here’s to a better 2021!
Christina Pierce is publisher of The Pine Belt News.