The Holidays are fast approaching and we wanted to FIRST address your mental health through this season and stay tuned for some healthy eating and exercise tips in future Sunday emails!
The Holiday season, like just about everything else this year, probably won’t look, feel and be the same as usual. A lot of us look forward to a full table at Thanksgiving or big party for New Year’s Eve or seeing family and friends that we only see at these very special times during the year and it’s highly likely that might not happen or just be different. Perhaps you have lost someone in your life this year and they won’t be there for the Holidays for the very first time and with change in traditions that have to shift can be hard.
Due to the changes that are inevitable this year, people might experience a range of emotions from loneliness, guilt, maybe a feeling of being disconnected or sad. In an article I read from Harvard Medical School about this very topic, Dr. Hilary Connery the assistant professor for psychiatry said it really well….”Traditions around holidays help to preserve those connections in a predictable manner. So, their absence leave some people feeling adrift. Grief and loss are challenging on any day, and the holidays only highlight and amplify that feeling of missing out on what was suppose to be your time to get your share of happiness” – Dr. Connery.
Whether you are excited or dreading the upcoming Holiday season, we decided to put together a list of some things that may be helpful to you as we approach a different looking season…
Start the process of looking at your options early and not waiting for the week of. If you normally get together with extended family out of town, start the thread of communication to see what people are comfortable with. Perhaps it means a smaller gathering and planning something different like a ZOOM family game or dessert time to be together, maybe it’s a drive by parade and dropping off a favorite holiday treat. If you are in a similar boat like me and have lost someone in your life, find a way to still honor and remember that person over the holiday season, sharing a story or a picture or maybe even a space at the table!
FOCUS ON WHAT’S IMPORTANT
The Holiday’s may be different, but they can still be meaningful. Maybe for this year it will be a quieter time and you can find a new tradition with your immediate family unit or your COVID circle of friends. You may even look to find ways to help others in some capacity during this time, volunteering, community service, giving in a new way, writing a hand written note to a neighbor, family member or friend that may be feeling extra down through this season.
ACCEPTANCE, GRACE & RESPECT
To call a spade a spade, we are living in a time where friends and family aren’t always in agreement with our views. The current situation affects everyone differently and can depend on their circumstances, temperament, and health. Letting go of the idea that things should be a certain way and accepting the need to shift, being flexible, and giving grace to others for whatever space they are in during this time will help for a bit more peace in our own hearts. Respecting the idea that family and friends who you normally have traditions may want to keep them as is or do something different due to where the world is and understanding everyone is entitled to their opinion. This season, give an abundance of grace and be open to looking at something in a different way. Accepting that there will be differences ahead of time can sometimes lessen the anxiety when the differences come into play.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
I am a firm believer there is always a silver lining and always something to be grateful for. Look for what that could be and choose to put your focus there. For example, maybe you will miss your Thanksgiving dinner with family of 30+ people but perhaps there is a little less stress and a little more quality time with just a few people, where deeper conversations can be had and memories can be shared, remembered, and made!