Few people could predict everything that 2020 has contained so far. We have collectively been subjected to trials that I, at least, have never encountered in my lifetime. The last time I gave my parents a hug was in February, even though we live quite near each other. But even if it is easy to dwell on the negative, I would like to highlight how we can choose to look at crises in a positive way, for example as a source of development and restart.
After all, humanity needs continued development, especially when it comes to creating lifestyles that are sustainable in the long term, where everyone is given good chances to create a meaningful and prosperous life. Now it is up to us to create a better future for ourselves and for future generations. It is a unique opportunity to address our common problems and challenges.
I am thinking of things like the environment and poverty, but also food and the transition to a more small-scale, sustainable, local and varied production. Imagine a future where healthy and nutritious food is also the food that is most available, no matter where you live or the size of your wallet. Imagine that everyone, from the smallest kindergarten child to our oldest seniors, could enjoy such food all the time. Imagine how much that would mean for public health? How many lives would we save?
Let’s remember that bad food is in the top 3 of the list of factors that cause the most deaths in the world, along with high blood pressure and smoking. A high BMI, which in many ways is driven by junk food, is in place 5. To give some perspective, obesity (BMI ≥30 kg / m2) is estimated according to the WHO to cost about 3 million lives per year, a figure that is likely to increase even more in the future. The incentives to achieve better and healthier food production can hardly be greater.
But to return to 2020, there is probably no other group in society that has been affected as much as our elderly. Spending time with loved ones is one of the most humane and positive things we can do. As an epidemiologist, I would say that there are few things that are as harmful to our well-being and quality of life as involuntary social isolation. When the most acute crisis has subsided, we must bring about a real change in the situation of our elderly, i.e., those who once built our societies and our economy. That’s the least they deserve. And why not invite more elderly people onto TV and other media, which today feel very devoid of older and wise role models. We need their experience and historical perspective. There is a lot of knowledge they could provide to today’s children and young people, who in many ways feel very lost in today’s high-tech screen age, where genuine human contact has been reduced more and more.
Another thing that has become clear is that people really need to invest in their health. Countries with high rates of poor public health, such as obesity and cardiovascular disease, have been hit much harder by corona than their counter parts, take the United States as an example. If we invest in building societies that value health and well-being, we will be much better equipped when crises and other external strains arise. Not all problems can be solved by healthcare, we must invest much more in prevention.
With good health, it will be easier to work with full force, your life will probably feel more meaningful, and you will like increase your confidence in your ability to handle stress, pressure and external stress. It will be easier to create the life you really want, and you can more easily enter a creative and positive flow of life. And if a cold wind happens to blow over you, you will get back on your feet faster, and your confidence in your own abilities will increase. Your resilience will improve. So try to look a little positive at these crises, and how they encourage you to reflect on things you can work on, so that you can stand firm in life no matter how stormy it is blowing out there.
This is a guest post. Any opinions expressed are the writer’s own.