Posted by DaVinci Healthcare Expert on Nov 28, 2021 2:20:00 PM
The holidays are once again upon us. This year, like the last, we face certain challenges to safety and connection. For many, the 2021 holiday season might require some creativity and out-of-the-box strategies to feel the usual warmth and joy of the season.
To help you relish this year’s festivities in a way that keeps you safe, we’ve compiled some ideas about how to stay connected to loved ones and maintain a positive and healthy mindset as you approach the transition into the new year.
First and foremost, it’s important to allow yourself to feel grief, sadness, or any sense of loneliness that might have come up for you this year. Name the difficult emotions that arise, like anger, fear, or shame. Allow yourself to acknowledge these normal emotions during a holiday season where you might not physically be with the people you love, instead of trying to push the feelings aside. Once you’ve recognized these difficult sensations, you can start finding healthy ways to cope with them.
For many people this year, in-person family and friend gatherings won’t be possible. While this is certainly difficult to accept, it’s important to realize that you are not alone in this challenge, and there is little you can do to control the situation.
Instead, think of what you can do to create a supportive community over the holidays. Schedule regular video or phone calls with family and friends. Plan fun holiday activities that can be shared virtually, like decorating cookies or even watching a holiday movie together.
Take advantage of a less chaotic holiday season to revisit an old hobby or start a new one. Consider what sorts of activities you used to enjoy. Perhaps it’s reading, journaling or writing, dancing, knitting, cooking, art, or anything else that brings you peace and happiness. Alternatively, you can start a new hobby to help you pass the time and do something that’s good for your mind, body, and soul.
An optimistic mindset is shown to have a significant impact on physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.1 Feeling alone around the holidays can certainly be hard to overcome, but there are strategies to shift a negative mindset into a positive one.
Adopting a gratitude practice can help significantly to promote a positive outlook and overall sense of wellbeing.2 You might begin by keeping a gratitude journal, or simply devote time each day to thinking about the aspects of your life that you are grateful for. Another great way to foster gratitude is finding a volunteer opportunity in your area. Many local nonprofit organizations offer both in-person and virtual volunteer work around the holidays, such as meal and gift delivery to those in need, or donating food and other items. Giving back to your community can work wonders for adjusting a negative mindset.
If necessary, don’t hesitate to seek out a therapist or other mental health professional.
Think of this holiday season as more of an introspective and reflective time. In our busy daily lives, we rarely take the time for deep self-reflection. This past year in particular has presented a unique set of challenges. Set aside time each day to reflect on the difficulties and joys you’ve experienced. Acknowledge the hardships, growth, happiness, and whatever else has come up this year. This sort of self-reflection can spark genuine insight, be a catalyst for change and new projects, and set you up for a prosperous year to come.
Since you might have more time to yourself this holiday season, pick some self-care strategies that bring you happiness. There’s no one-size-fits-all-approach to self-care, so think outside the box. You might try yoga, meditation, walks, an online dance class, Epsom salt baths, or simply cultivating the practice of consciously experiencing and being present with small moments of joy throughout your day.
If you’re struggling with staying safe and connecting this holiday season, you are not alone. The holidays might look a little different this year, and that’s ok. If you feel yourself becoming increasingly anxious, sad, or stressed, never hesitate to ask for help from friends, family, or a professional.
 Conversano C, Rotondo A, Lensi E, Della Vista O, Arpone F, Reda MA. Optimism and its impact on mental and physical well-being. Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health. 2010 May 14;6:25-9. doi: 10.2174/1745017901006010025. PMID: 20592964; PMCID: PMC2894461.
 Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2010). Gratitude and well being: the benefits of appreciation. Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township)), 7(11), 18–22.
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