With high levels of uncertainty and an inability to predict what will happen from one week to the next, 2020 was a tough year for most Australians. So how has it affected our mental wellbeing and decision making? Hear from our expert, Social Psychologist Bridgette Di Ferdinando.
One word to describe 2020
If asked to describe 2020 in one word, many would use the word “unpredictable”. High levels of uncertainty and an inability to predict what will happen from one week to the next weighs heavily on our psychological health and our ability to make sound decisions.
For most Australians, living with COVID-19 meant facing multiple stressors simultaneously, such as:
- The fear of becoming seriously ill or dying
- Economic uncertainty and for some, unemployment or reduced income
- Social isolation from family and friends
- The need to adapt to different ways of working whether it was working from home or following strict sanitising and social distancing protocols
- Even grocery shortages of household staples
According to Bridgette Di Ferdinando, a Social Psychologist and Treysta client and friend, the physical and psychological impact of these stressors throughout 2020 will remain with us for a while yet. In fact, she describes them as having the “same level of distress as breaking an arm or a leg”.
“Our feelings of certainty have fallen off a cliff”, she said. “As human beings, we move toward predictability and being able to control what happens next. When we can’t, fear and anxiety can lead to poor and irrational decision making. We need to be conscious of this to ensure we are making wise decisions – not decisions based on fear.”
Loss of independence, freedom and equity
In a conversation with Treysta’s Business Manager, Laura Mitchell, Bridgette explains that our brains are geared towards fairness. In addition, Australia has a strong tradition of giving everyone a “fair go”. Yet in 2020, we all witnessed significant inequities and these play heavily on our minds.
For example, frontline health workers have been significantly impacted as have some industries such as entertainment, tourism and hospitality. Yet other industries have flourished. Even between Australian states, harsher shutdowns for some have caused greater impacts on the personal freedoms of their residents.
For much of the world, freedom and independence are seen as human rights. Yet shutdowns, border closures and travel bans have robbed all of us of these basic, personal freedoms.
Bridgette Di Ferdinando describes experiencing these effects as “a huge threat to the brain which has been wired to keep our threat levels and anxiety at the lowest possible state. Our brain is organised in this manner to ensure we are able to make better, clearer decisions. It also allows us to connect with others in a positive manner. 2020 has seen everyone experience multiple threats and high levels of fear and anxiety. That means how we manage the next 12 months is very important – especially as we think about our own financial situation and wealth management plans.”
Hear more of what Bridgette has to say on this via a short video clip on our Instagram page.
Now that we know a little about how 2020 affected us, over the next few months we will start looking at some of the silver linings and lessons to be gained from our experiences last year. So stay tuned for our next article and follow us on Facebook or Instagram for even more.
Listen to the full conversation between Bridgette and Laura here.
Looking for certainty in uncertain times?
At Treysta, we help you achieve certainty by giving you the ability to make great financial decisions that align with your values and support the life you really want to live. If you would like more financial certainty in uncertain times, get in touch by calling 02 9241 2575 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org