If Only I Had Known …

Hindsight is 2020, or perhaps more aptly, 2020 is hindsight!

Focusing on hindsight can be a positive or negative experience, depending on what we take from it. To be on the negative side of hindsight is to be living with regret. Living with regret prevents us from moving forward toward a fulfilling life. <!–split–>

Living with regrets can have a debilitating effect on our psychological health. When we focus on what we could have, should have, or would have done, we become mired in a whirlpool of helplessness, which can then spiral into depression.

The symptoms of depression include sleeplessness, trouble eating, lack of energy, and loss of interest in the things that give us pleasure, making it very difficult to cope with the normal ups and downs of life.

Living with regrets also takes a toll on our physical health. Regret makes stress. Stress causes anxiety. Anxiety can increase our blood pressure, increase the workload on our hearts, and cause heartburn and other digestive issues. Also, when our stress levels increase, we may turn to coping mechanisms, such as overeating, inadequate sleep, self-medicating with food, alcohol, smoking or drugs.

A change in perspective in how we deal with hindsight can make a big difference. Hindsight can have a positive effect in our lives. As we look back at our experiences, we can evaluate and learn from them, which give us the tools to move forward.

So, let’s play a game called “If Only I Had Known…COVID-19 Edition”. I’ll go first!

If Only I Had Known... that I would discover how much I love to create new recipes from food already in the house, since I don’t go to the store every other day.   Negative: I ate everything I cooked without thought of the consequences. Positive: I’ve learned to utilize what I have in the cupboard, control my portions and save money.

 If Only I Had Known… that I would be semi-housebound for so long. Negative: I can’t go anywhere, so I may as well just sit around and watch TV. Positive: I can use this time at home to clean out that horrible cupboard (admit it – we all have at least one), or do other activities that are fun, helpful and/or creative, such as needlework, gardening and riding that dusty stationary bike.

If Only I Had Known… how much I miss seeing my extended family, my church family and my friends. Negative: I never get mail or phone calls anymore; I’ve been forgotten. Positive: Others are feeling lonely too. I reach out with phone calls, and I send letters and emails. It helps me to talk with people outside my home; I feel better, and make someone else feel better too.

COVID-19 is going to be with us for a while yet and we can lament all that we have lost or we can focus on the positive things that we have learned about ourselves in the last year. It all comes down to choices: become stuck in past regrets or move forward with positivity and hope. (I vote for hope!)

Blessings!   Kara Ade, Your Parish Nurse

Reprinted with permission by Laura Brown, RN, Parish Nurse