Why missing milestones during coronavirus lockdown could be causing more harm than you realise

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More Australians are turning 50 than any other age in 2020, with 338,081 people marking a half century of life due to the baby and migration boom of those born between 1970 and 1971.

But social distancing restrictions and border closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has meant hundreds of thousands of those 50th birthday celebrations never took place – one of them Annette Densham’s epic round the world adventure.

Ms Densham, from the Gold Coast in Queensland, had a calendar jam-packed with memorable events including a week in Bali, a month-long tour of Mexico, 50 live music concerts and a New Year’s cruise around the South Pacific.

Coronavirus put a line through all of that, leaving Ms Densham and others like her more strained, anxious and upset than they had imagined they would be.

Clinical psychologist and behavioural expert Jaimie Bloch says there’s a reason for that.

Sydney psychologist Jaimie Bloch (pictured) believes the emotional distress of missing important life events has far-reaching consequences that are not always immediately obvious

Sydney psychologist Jaimie Bloch (pictured) believes the emotional distress of missing important life events has far-reaching consequences that are not always immediately obvious

Ms Bloch believes the emotional distress of missing important life events has far-reaching consequences that are not always immediately obvious.

‘As humans we spend a lot of time dedicated to working hard,’ the Sydney practitioner told Daily Mail Australia.

‘We often use the anticipation and planning of milestones as a way to manage stress by having something to look forward to, to work hard towards and to have as a well-deserved reward.’

Queensland woman Annette Densham (pictured left) had a calendar jam-packed with memorable events to mark her milestone 50th birthday before the outbreak of COVID-19

Queensland woman Annette Densham (pictured left) had a calendar jam-packed with memorable events to mark her milestone 50th birthday before the outbreak of COVID-19

But the constraints of travel bans, border closures and social distancing has disrupted those plans to an extent that has never been seen before.

‘These changes have created a range of emotions like grief, loneliness, sadness, disappointment, anger, frustration and anxiety, which is not just experienced by the person whose milestone it was but their loved ones looking forward to the event too,’ Ms Bloch said.

To offset the disappointment, Pizza Hut is giving away $1,000 to 50 people who have missed their 50th birthday due to the COVID-19 crisis as part of its ‘Missed Milestones’ campaign.

How to cope with missing milestone during COVID-19

1. ‘Double celebrate’

Traditionally celebrations occur around the date of the milestone, but this doesn’t mean that milestones are restricted to a celebration time limit. 

Be open minded to having multiple celebrations for your milestone. This may look like having a virtual party during this pandemic and scheduling an actual party at a later date when it’s safe to do so. 

2. Get creative

There is no rule book about how to celebrate a special occasion! We have all been stuck in this traditional idea of having big gatherings, but these big gatherings can be impersonal. 

Embrace the shift this year and get creative. This may look like a fun virtual party. You can still get all dressed up, blast the music, have speeches and engage in activities even virtually! 

3. Make the effort and appreciate the effort

If you know someone who is celebrating a special occasion this year, like turning 50, make extra effort. Things look different this year so it’s not enough to just call and wish someone happy birthday. 

Help organise a special gift or be part of a car parade party in the street. These small gestures of care and love will be more meaningful than a big party.

Source: Clinical psychologist and behavioural expert Jaimie Bloch

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More Australians are turning 50 than any other age in 2020, with 338,081 people marking a half century of life due to the baby and migration boom of those born between 1970 and 1971 (stock image)

More Australians are turning 50 than any other age in 2020, with 338,081 people marking a half century of life due to the baby and migration boom of those born between 1970 and 1971 (stock image)

Pizza Hut’s chief marketing officer Chet Patel said he hopes the giveaway will bring joy to Australians during extraordinarily challenging times.

‘Missed Milestones aims to show Aussies a bit of love and generosity, recognising those who have been impacted personally this year,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

As a brand that’s been ‘stitched into the fabric of Australian society’ for five decades and is celebrating its own 50th anniversary in 2020, Mr Patel felt it was only right that the restaurant give back to loyal customers who are doing it tough.

‘Hopefully, the lucky recipients will get to spend the money and celebrate in a way that is more memorable than they would have initially imagined,’ he said.

To be in with a chance to win, simply enter the details of the person you wish to nominate and describe in 50 words or less why they deserve to be one of the 50 Australians to receive $1,000 each.

Online entries are now open on Pizza Hut’s website, with winners announced on Friday, October 2.

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