In the grand scale, 2020 has challenged the ways in which we all live our lives. As many aspects of our daily functioning have been changed, we are also making accommodations in the way we celebrate the holidays. For instance, many of us spent the recent Thanksgiving festivities in smaller gatherings or celebrating through virtual parties. Now, as Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve near, we may need to celebrate socially distanced once more. So, what advice is available to us in coping with the ongoing effects of the pandemic and the associated changes to the holidays?
Though it may sound uncomplicated, one way we are able to maintain a sense of balance during these times is by acknowledging what has changed. By accepting the new normal and acknowledging what we lost, we are becoming more mindful of how we are feeling and validating our experiences. In such a tumultuous year, it is understandable to feel disoriented, anxious, depressed, fatigued, and stressed. In fact, various studies show this to be a trend across the country and the greater world. The great news is that our sole act of acknowledgment allows us to work toward self-regulation and will reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms overall.
Another method through which we can brave this new normal is through expressing gratitude. By training ourselves to seek things we are thankful for, we allow ourselves to find stability in the uncertainties of life. Expressing gratitude helps us become more thankful, hopeful, positive, and happier. One can also express gratitude through journaling, conveying it to those we are appreciative of, or through creative pursuits like music, dance, art, poetry, etc. The more we lean into this habit, the better our outlook on our life becomes.
Laughter is another technique we can utilize to help us feel centered. We have heard it said before but have rarely analyzed its benefits, but laughter indeed is medicine. Through the positive use of humor, we become more optimistic, can manage overwhelming events better, witness the reduction of stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms while also obtaining an increase in endorphins and health promoting hormones. Laughing with friends, family, or coworkers also allows us to interact with our community and lighten the impact of negative events we experience. So, whether it is virtual or socially distanced, try to enjoy more laughs this holiday season.
Finally, by seeking activities that help us be more active, we can better manage some associated issues resulting from the pandemic. As more of us are experiencing increased screen-time from working from home or, through our limited social outlets, a rise in physical inactivity has resulted. This has also been associated with a decrease in self-reported wellness and increases in anxiety and depression. One solution that we can pursue is by increasing actively through walking outdoors. The benefits of walking outdoors a few times a week has been demonstrated to elevate mood and increase a person’s perception on their quality of life. Those who may experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may also find walks in nature beneficial in curbing their symptoms. However, exercise, in general, will help improve a person’s cardiovascular health, cognitive ability, health span, the onset of illnesses, memory, and more.
By incorporating any or all of the above, we may all enjoy a bit more joy this holiday season!