Emotional Health For a Covid-19 HolidayNov 27, 2020 ● By Craig Mead
Photo credit sepy for Adobe Stock
As the year ends and some ugly chapters close, we can begin to exhale and plan for an alternate winter. Navigating holidays can be tricky in a good year, but this season we’re going to need a whole lot more of a plan to maintain our emotional health. At years end, it’s natural to reflect on what has passed in our lives, which can sometimes be depressing. This year is more complicated because we find ourselves without some of our best coping skills and staples of the season—large gatherings with friends and family. To save the day, let’s follow Grandma’s advice and make a plan, get creative and do more with less. For those old enough to remember, we had some great holidays in the 1970s without cell phones, cable TV, internet, Netflix or Zoom. Now is the time to return to our values and take charge of our own health and happiness with some simple natural practices.
In past years, we may have been able to abandon our diet and exercise habits for all the deliciousness of the holidays. This year, overall health may depend more on keeping that exercise routine and practicing some serious moderation with food, sweets and especially alcohol, which may bring your mood up only to leave you feeling worse later. Consider treating yourself to a weekly night of comedies and eight full hours of sleep instead.
This year has brought some drastic, unwanted changes to just about every aspect of our lives. As unhappy and upset as this makes us, accepting reality is one of the most important ways to preserve our emotional health. Once we accept reality, then we can begin to adapt and make room for joy and happiness. Annual traditions of large gatherings may be out this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make new traditions and find creative ways to connect and have fun with a little planning.
Our connections with friends and family may need some attention and care. Figure out how to get video conferencing set up on the family room TV so the grandparents can join the celebration safely. If a virtual dinner party is required, then find a way to make it fun. Or keep it simple, like simply staying up late and playing Monopoly with the whole family on New Year’s Eve.
Loved ones, jobs and our social outlets may have been lost this year, but now is the time to focus on the blessings you already have in your life and be grateful, positive and kind. Making a meaningful contribution in a big or small way is a great way to boost your spirit and use that extra time and energy. Give back with a simple random act of kindness or participate in great projects like LasagnaLove.org.
Craig Mead, LCSW, LCPC, is a licensed clinical social worker and professional counselor practicing in Chicago. For more information, visit Upside-Chicago.com.