Practicing Wellness this Holiday Season
By Lisa Furst, Chief Program Officer at Vibrant Emotional Health
The end of 2021 is rapidly approaching, and we are fully in the midst of the holiday season. We can feel so many things at this time of year – joy and excitement, pleasure and anticipation, love and goodwill. But even in the most ordinary of times, this time of year can bring other feelings, too – anxiety, sadness, loneliness and a sense of loss. These can feel out of place amidst the singing, the lights, the holiday treats, and gift giving that are so much a part of the holiday season.
As we reflect on this anything but ordinary year, many of us may be thinking about where we were a year ago, with the pandemic in full swing and so many aspects of our lives utterly changed. At that time, most of us hoped that within a year, the pandemic would have abated and that life would be, if not back to “normal,” perhaps more as it was before.
We are still experiencing the pandemic and many of its restrictions, which we probably didn’t think we would be doing by the end of 2021. Many of us have cared for loved ones who have been ill or managed our own illness; we’ve worked on the frontlines of healthcare or in other essential services; we’ve helped our children attend school remotely while also working at home, and we’ve adjusted to some level of social “re-opening,” even as new variants of the coronavirus emerge and raise new questions.
We have faced so many challenges, and they’ve taken a toll on our emotional well-being. We’ve felt fear, anxiety, worry, sadness and, at times, despair. We have had losses and we have grieved. But in the face of these difficulties, we have also had reason for hope. We have seen the arrival of vaccines, we’ve been able to experience more of our usual activities as some restrictions have lifted, and we have found ways to connect even in the midst of needing to distance physically from one another and take other public health precautions.
All of that said, you may still be feeling stress at this time of year. If you are, here are a couple of ideas that may help you to feel a little more balanced:
First, think about 3-5 activities that give you pleasure. Have you participated in any of them in the last week? If you have, terrific – can you do a few more? If you haven’t, see if there are times in the coming days where you can build them back into your schedule.
Second, make a list of 5-10 people in your life that you like to speak to or spend time with, and then think about the last time you spoke with or saw them. Has it been a while since you’ve connected with some of them? Select one or two of those people and reach out – see if you can make a time to see them or talk with them over the phone.
Finally, take a moment to honor whatever feelings you are having this holiday season. Revel in the lights, the glitter, the magic and the togetherness that this time of year brings. If you are feeling anxious, sad or isolated, know that you aren’t alone – many people also feel this way during the holidays. And, there are people who are available to support you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you are in distress and would like to get support, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
All of us at Vibrant wish you a peaceful holiday season and a joyous New Year!