This holiday season, like no other before, may bring us an array of emotions. We might feel excited to see all the lights and decorations go up, but we might also feel disappointed that we won’t be able to celebrate how we usually do. Despite this conflict of emotions, if we reflect on and acknowledge how we’re feeling and are open to celebrating in new and creative ways, the holidays this year can still be a reason to celebrate.
Here are a few ways you can still bring in the joy of the season:
1. Be aware of your own feelings: How do you feel about the changes this year has brought? It is okay if you feel loss, even if you have not physically lost anyone or anything. Losses come in all different forms—it might be the loss of connections, traditions, or an actual loss of a loved one that normally is with you during the holidays.
2. It’s ok to have mixed feelings: You can be grateful for all that you have this holiday, but at the same time, also be sad or disappointed things aren’t normal. It’s a mixed emotion and it’s okay to feel how you do.
3. Acknowledge the loss: Sometimes things look so normal around us that we forget all that is actually going on. Our brain is tricked into thinking we should feel normal. But things aren’t normal. We cannot travel freely or see friends and family freely. Our plans have been changed and it’s outside of our own control—something we as humans certainly don’t like and that’s okay. Acknowledge this change and this loss. You may feel like your life hasn’t been as impacted as others’, but comparing harms never helps. When we tell ourselves we ‘shouldn’t feel a certain way because others have it worse’ it is belittling and dismissing our own feelings, which isn’t necessary. This is a form of guilting ourselves, and it isn’t valuable or particularly good for our mental health.
4. Do the traditions we can do. That favorite recipe of Grandma’s? Let’s make it. Cookies with the kids? Let’s do it. If it’s watching a special movie? Let’s turn it on. This year we may need those ingredients delivered or it might not be in-person with family, but we can still do those traditions in a new way.
5. Utilize technology that connects us. During this time reach out to others through the phone, email, video call, or group video programs. These new technologies have helped us connect easier than ever before, even with people in other countries or areas. Take advantage of it. As humans, we have a need to interact with others (even the introverts!).
6. Give yourself time to ‘not do’ and focus a little more on selfcare. Often people feel like ‘I’m not doing that much, so why am I so tired all the time?’ The truth is, even with all the normal things we are doing, a pandemic, and a long-standing one at that, is still occurring. It’s exhausting. Take a break from the news, the numbers, the data. Reconnect with yourself and your needs. Even though others may be struggling right now, it’s okay to take care of yourself. Your guilt, constantly checking the numbers or data, or freaking out will not help them suffer less and will more likely cause added suffering within yourself.
If anything, this year has taught us that we are resilient. No one would have imagined in March where we would be today. We are creative, problem solvers, and can roll with the punches. So many people who never thought they could work from home, did so overnight. So many who didn’t think they could homeschool, did so overnight. We made it work the best we could. But more than just survived, we thrived.
From the Counseling center at JFS Orlando to your families, we hope the new year brings you peace and strength. We are here for you and your families.
Looking for more tips and guidance? JFS Orlando’s licensed counselors are specialized in various areas and are here to support you. Telehealth counseling appointments now available! Medicare, Medicaid and almost all commercial insurances are accepted. Call 407-644-7671 or complete our new online form to request an appointment today!
Ashlyn Douglass-Barnes, LCSW is the Clinical Director and a licensed clinical social worker at JFS Orlando. Ashlyn has worked in a variety of settings including outpatient community based mental health, inpatient/admission psychiatric hospital, substance abuse/DUI, dialysis/medical, and in home/office outpatient therapy.