With 2020 wrapping up as a year of historical and traumatic events, it seemed inevitable to adapt a pessimistic point of view. As the year came crumbling down, a lack of intimacy, pressures from society to look a certain way, and the stress that came with emerging adulthood seemed to overwhelm many women. Politics, amplified misogyny, balancing work/life and a lack of dating begs the question of whether one should even attempt to romanticize a time when everything seems broken.
The dynamic behind intimate moments have changed and have led many women to strive for isolation as they remain cautious. The mere thought of kissing someone on a first date is now a frightening health risk rather than an exciting moment of suspense. For those in long term relationships, many commitments were tested as claustrophobia and stress got the best of partners in isolation. Women’s emotions never left, but 2020 made them overwhelmingly gloomy.
As many have left optimism on the back burner, it's important to look into the science behind cynicism. A 2009 study done by the Women’s Health Initiative showed that women had lower rates of coronary heart disease, obesity, and mortality when upholding an optimistic viewpoint—even if it seemed forced at first. “Evidence suggests that psychological factors influence risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) morbidity and mortality. Persistent negative affect, such as depression, anxiety, or anger, and cynical, hostile attitudes toward others predict CVD. Recently, research has investigated the health effects of low levels of positive attributes.”
In order to deal with emotions, one must first confront them directly. Recognizing the negative circumstances in the world is crucial to appreciate the positive ones. As women attempt to stray away from the cynical roots that have festered within, they can find themselves trapped as stress sneaks in. Picking up positive habits to keep busy and recognizing that this year has been the hardest for many is enough to simply allow oneself to survive rather than attempt to overcome.
The political landscape, rampant police brutality, deaths from coronavirus, and a new socially distant world has kept a mentally taxing atmosphere looming over. Many young women have lost faith in the democratic systems in place. The state of women's rights in the world demands progress in order to eliminate gender inequality. According to Insider, 2020 has also been a devastatingly deadly year for transgender women, many of them Black or Latinx. As frustrating as it is, many movements are getting kickstarted and are being heard. While 2020 may seem like an unrelenting year, women's voices will be amplified. There is a violent epidemic of hatred that has spread in 2020 but the empathy hasn’t gone away completely. Check in on the women you know and be there for those in a bad mental state.
To attempt optimism is no easy feat, but, rather than viewing the past through rose-colored glasses as most tend to, nostalgia must be placed on hold with more of a focus on the present. Emphasize taking care of oneself, focus on the positives to come, and focus on the life we do have in front of us. An idealist mindset is by no means perfect, but at least one can live in the moment and attempt to experience it without sabotage. Emotions may bubble and a bitter attitude can creep up, but taking time for oneself in 2020 amongst the overwhelming news, pain, and tragedy in the world will prevent a path of destructive thoughts and cynicism to progress. Healthy activities will further prevent the path to psychological distress with many raving about the benefits of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness techniques help to not ruminate in the sad state of the world, can train people to not partake in negative thoughts surrounding them or their surroundings, and can eliminate the loop that brings them down and holds them stagnant.
Finally, as 2020 slowly comes to a close, if you are a woman who has grown cynical, give room to take care of yourself and focus on you, because the news you consume will always be there and 2020 certainly hasn’t made life any easier.
Written by Aida Agayeva
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