Many families have traditions during the holidays, but a universal theme is spending time with the people you love. Given the current pandemic, keeping family traditions alive may be exceptionally difficult this year. The isolation we have all experienced may be especially hard to handle during the holiday season. Loneliness can be detrimental to both physical and mental health, and it is important to do what you can to stay connected to others. You can make important contributions to your community and engage with others from the comfort and safety of your own home. Here are some opportunities to check out:
- If you are an artist, check out the Stuck at Home (together) resource from the UnLonely Project. You can create artwork and share with your community. https://www.artandhealing.org/stuckathome/
- Become a volunteer for the Smithsonian Institute! Help expand access to the Smithsonian’s collections and participate in research programs. https://www.si.edu/volunteer/DigitalVolunteers
- Explore hundreds of volunteer opportunities in areas including health and medicine, education, and community building. https://www.volunteermatch.org/virtual-volunteering
There are many alternatives to dealing with this novel holiday season, such as starting a new tradition, expressing your needs, and helping others. Harvard Health recommends the following:
- Start a new tradition: Write a poem for someone you have lost and recite it at the dinner table with your loved ones virtually, light a candle in their honor, and save them a seat at the dinner table.
- Change the celebration: Move away from your normal tradition and start something new, such as virtual caroling. Organize a drive by food drop off where everyone delivers portions of their holiday dish, and then gathers for a virtual dinner.
- Express your needs: The holidays are hectic – particularly this year. If you need space or time away from your loved ones, let them know. Try to avoid forcing yourself into something that may compromise your mental health and overall well-being.
- Help others: Volunteer at your local soup kitchen, create gift bags for those in need, and pay it forward by packing lunch bags to distribute to the homeless. Helping others is an excellent way to give back and add a little joy during this unprecedented time.
We encourage you to come up with new ways to celebrate the holidays either in person or virtually. Be conscious and aware of your needs and adjust your surroundings accordingly. Take deep, full breaths and rest assured that there is light at the end of the tunnel! If you are in need of support in terms of how to transition from isolation, or experiencing depression, we offer counseling services and are here to help you.
Komaroff, Anthony. “Coping with Grief and Loss during the Holidays.” Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Medical School, 1 Dec. 2017, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/coping-with-grief-and-loss-during-the-holidays-201112244028.