The holidays can be a time when despite all the festivities and good cheer you see on the Hallmark Channel, you find yourself feeling alone. Add a pandemic to the mix, and it’s hard not to feel some sense of isolation. However, you can make a significant difference in your mental health by intentionally carving out creative and manageable ways to connect.
If you are starting the season from a baseline of stress and fatigue, it can be hard to feel positive about connecting to others. Make sure you are getting enough rest, drink plenty of water, and fill your diet with nourishing foods that give you energy. Take time out to move daily. Even a short walk in the brisk air can refresh your body and soul. Write in a journal, or seek therapy to help you share and process your emotions. With the rise of telehealth, it is getting easier to incorporate therapy sessions into busy schedules.
Some types of socializing can actually increase feelings of isolation. Social media, for example, often adds to anxiety and depression by fueling comparison, competition, or debates about sensitive issues. Choose a few trusted friends to message or email individually. Better yet, put pen to paper and send letters through the mail. Giving and receiving tangible reminders of connection can build relationships in new and deeper ways.
Why not make this the holiday season when you learn to crochet, identify backyard birds, add some shelves to your garage, or pick up the guitar? Focusing on personal creativity and growth builds a sense of purpose, keeps your mind sharp, and creates opportunities to connect with a community of like minded people, even if virtually for now.
Zoom’s not just for work meetings. Create a virtual holiday party during which you and a few friends share hot cocoa, swap favorite holiday memories, or even read a classic together out loud, such as The Grinch Who Stole Christmas or, for a longer party, A Christmas Carol.
Even during this era of social distancing, you can enjoy time with friends in person. Choose a weekly slot when you and your friend can count on spending time together. Brave the cold by bundling up and sharing a distanced walk together. Take a masked drive or caravan through neighborhoods with spectacular lights. If it’s not too cold, sit in a garage with the door open, maybe with a space heater or two. "If there’s a will, there’s a way" has never been truer!
Yes, the holidays are a special time, but they are also just another part of daily life. Expecting the month of December to be perfect is unrealistic and can add to feelings of isolation by creating a sense of pressure and perfectionism. Set aside times to enjoy yourself, but also just allow yourself to be.
If a telehealth connection is the right path for you, click here to learn more.