This Holiday Season Kristi Horner

This holiday season certainly is different in many ways. Due to the pandemic, many of us are doing things differently by minimalizing our activities, staying home, and celebrating with smaller groups of people.

But as families and caregivers supporting those we love living with mental illness, we’re no strangers to “different.” And we know that “different” doesn’t mean “bad.” It can also mean opportunities and possibilities.

Much of my inspiration for this week’s commentary came from this article on planning for success in the pandemic version of the holidays. I think it hits the mark on how many of us are feeling about this holiday season:

“The social isolation, uncertainty about employment, income, health and the health of Covid vulnerable people you love has posed a unique challenge for us all. It is completely understandable for you to have some apprehension about the upcoming holidays.”

“So, instead of talking about the typical mental health messages to use self-care and recalibrate expectations, I recommend that you take a different approach. You need to assume that things will be difficult and that there will be some casualties, kind of like a battle between the Holidays as we used to know them and the Pandemic version of the holidays. You need to learn from the approach the Navy Seals and successful survivors of difficult, painful and dangerous events employ. In short, you need to be prepared to deal with difficult things, knowing that it will be difficult, and make the measure of success your ability to get through with your mental health and physical health intact.”

The article lists five ways to be resilient and thrive during difficult times:

  • View the current pandemic (and any difficult situation) as a challenge to be mastered and an opportunity for something to be gained.
  • Reframe stress as something that is inevitable, that occurs every day, and is desirable.
  • Set your goal on living your life with moral integrity, and assume that it will take effort.
  • Analyze what went well and why, instead of focusing on what was disappointing or upsetting.
  • Focus on service to others.

The article also says, “Start telling yourself that the 2020 Holidays are a time to clarify what really matters about the holidays and to figure out how to honor those important values of family, worship, community or charity. These do not require holiday parties, lots of gifts or large gatherings to fulfill. You will need to get creative to express the holiday spirit pandemic-style.”

In other words, this “different” holiday season is no different from other challenges we face during our lives. It’s also an opportunity, full of possibility and HOPE, to be creative, to honor our values, and to celebrate those we love.

Kristi Horner
Founder and Executive Director
Courage to Caregivers

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