The New Year check-in: why this year it’s so important

No-one would disagree that 2020 was quite the year, so making more of an effort than usual to reconnect with friends and family is vital. Here’s why.

Despite the fact that it’s summer in Australia full of family holidays, picnics at the beach and balmy evening BBQs, this time of year can leave many people, particularly older Australians, feeling isolated.

The fact is that while the coronavirus pandemic played out slightly differently for all of us, and impacted some people’s lives far more significantly than others, it’s fair to say that 2020 and the beginning of 2021 have been one for the books. Experts agree that many Australians have experienced psychological, physical and emotional effects as a result.

Research conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies to explore life during COVID-19, also discovered that while a significant amount of us made more effort to keep in touch with loved ones due to the pandemic, certain groups of people, including older Australians living in the family home, felt more isolated than ever.

And then there’s the fact that while summer is traditionally a time of fun, frivolity and family get-togethers, for many people it can feel like the exact opposite due to a whole range of contributing factors.

So why not consider ringing in the New Year with a catch-up with a friend or family member you haven’t been in touch with for a while? And not just to loved ones living in Australia but further afield, too. It could be as simple as sending a text message, making a phone or video call, or even going back to basics by sending a handwritten letter to let them know you’re thinking of them. There has arguably never been a better time to use the New Year as an opportunity to make contact.

And when you do…
Don’t be afraid to ask if they’re OK if you sense they’re out of sorts or aren’t quite themselves. As we’ve outlined earlier, there’s more than one good reason why people may not be coping as well as usual at the end of 2020.

While choosing the right moment to start that conversation is important, what’s more crucial is simply having the chat itself, if you feel like someone you know needs support.

What also matters is how you respond if your friend or family member does open up and shares that they’re not feeling the best. Taking time to listen is really important, as is encouraging them to take actions that will help. And, of course, if they do feel comfortable sharing with you, remembering to stay in touch and checking in regularly in the weeks and months ahead is a big help, too.

Luckily, there are helpful resources available online that you can use to find out more about starting these type of conversations if you’re worried about someone. They also provide useful information on the most effective ways to offer support. You never know, it might just be the best gift you’ll ever give.