Celebrating the Deeper Message of the Holidays this Season

December 23, 2020

Studies by the National Institute of Health and the Kaiser Family Foundation indicate that COVID 19 is causing an increase in the number of people identifying mental health concerns. This week is a week where many of us are celebrating holidays or holy days, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanza are on many of our minds. Rather than allowing these to become stressful by focusing on planning and getting tasks done, focus on the relationships and the deeper meaning of each celebration. The deeper message in all of these holidays can give us hope and strengthen our resilience. Allow them to enrich your faith while you treasure the people in your life that you love. https://mhanational.org/preparing-holidays-during-COVID-19 

COVID-19 has changed how we celebrate this year. I encourage you to think of ways to use the technology available to make these holidays special. Use a social media app to get family together and make a craft. Send out the list of needed supplies and let everyone get what they need before the meeting. Read stories to your grandchildren over the phone or computer. Use the same to Share stories of Christmases past. Use the Netflix party app to remotely watch a holiday movie together and chat. There are still ways to celebrate this season. Find creative ways to adapt. It will help manage the loneliness you may be dealing with this year. https://mhanational.org/preparing-holidays-during-covid-19

Mental Health America shares that this time of year we are normally busy with parties and visiting family and friends. But due to COVID-19, things like traveling and gathering in large groups is not possible. Many people have lost loved ones and even more have lost their jobs and are dealing with financial stress. Others may be working overtime and unable to take as much time off around the holidays as they usually can. Now more than ever, be kind to yourself and acknowledge how you are feeling. Journal or use your creative side to truly process your feelings. This holiday season is challenging but with creativity and planning you can make it meaningful for yourself and those you love. https://mhanational.org/preparing-holidays-during-covid-19

The Mayo Clinic reminds us that the holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children or other relatives can't come to your home, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos. Or meet virtually on a video call. Even though your holiday plans may look different this Christmas eve, you can find ways to celebrate. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544

Make sure today you take time to consider who you know that may be alone. Give them a call or text.  Make a plan for how, this weekend and into next week you are going to be a peacemaker and let those in your life whom you care about know how much they mean to you. Christmas is a celebration of sacrificial love. Think what a difference you could make in your neighborhood if each week you visited someone who is lonely or used the resources you have to change someone else's life. 

-Jerry Strausbaugh, EdD, LPCC-S, Executive Director, Appleseed Community Mental Health Center

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