The holiday season can bring on a variety of emotions. November marks the start of events that seem to keep rolling throughout December and into the New Year. The end of the year is compromised of work potlucks, increased family and friend obligations and festive gatherings that seem to last forever. Fast forward to 2020 and those colorful festivities of yesteryear have been replaced with more life altering challenges than we can count.
In March it was much easier to reframe the experience. Here we stand many months later and seeing the glass as half full can be a stretch. Life is different and the loss of life cannot be ignored. There is an ugly side to the pandemic and this factor alone can make it extremely difficult to get into the holiday spirit. I spoke about trauma in April 2020. Many do not recognize that experiencing a pandemic is traumatic. In my practice I have heard several verbalize that they “don’t know what happened but something is off.” I find myself helping said individuals to recognize that their disclosure is a direct result of the pandemic. The pandemic is the “what” that is causing the mind and body to be “off.” Overall functioning is compromised causing one to be in constant survival mode. Being in survival mode makes it difficult to socialize, work, sleep, relax, think, recall / retain information, tap into creativity and focus on relationships. This automatic response to the pandemic (trauma) does not simply disappear during the holiday season because the calendar says that it is December.
It is important to acknowledge that the holiday season isn’t a festive time for everyone. There are some who dread the season because it automatically brings on feelings of sadness and grief. Such feelings alone can exasperate mental health concerns without even factoring in the pandemic. Adding in the pandemic plus other environmental stressors (housing insecurity, food insecurity, job loss, financial difficulty) can compound an already unpleasant dynamic. Please seek out a therapist if you find yourself feeling that something isn’t right with your functioning. Help is available and a licensed clinician can help you to find direction in the midst of the chaos. Remember that it is ok to not be ok.
Please also consider the following:
Connecting with those that bring out the best in you can put you in a healthier and happier space. Seek to connect with family, friends or your chosen tribe given that in-person gatherings and travel may not be an option. It can be helpful to utilize a virtual platform to create a new holiday experience. This by no means replaces the in-person festivities, however, it gets a step closer to maintaining social connections and avoiding social isolation. Yes, (insert the name of your favorite virtual platform here) fatigue is real because it has been the primary means of communication since March! Do yourself a favor by limiting use and taking breaks as needed. Consider picking up the phone to remain connected and remember that disconnecting from virtual platforms (phone included) is totally acceptable too!
The calendar is a reminder that December is here, yet the holiday season looks and feels different. There isn’t much that can be done with changing the calendar as the days will continue to move at their standard pace. The 2020 holiday season may be a great opportunity to deviate from old traditions by creating new memories and experiences. Creating new experiences can bring about positive feelings and positive feelings can help to elevate ones mood. The overall goal is to create good memories which help to smooth out the not so pleasant memories. A deliberate attempt to introduce a few good memories here and there is good for the soul.
Self-care is still a must. 2020 has forced us to redefine what was previously classified as self-care. Restrictions are still in place which limits indulging in some pre-pandemic activities. Redefined self-care equates to granting yourself a bit of self-compassion by meeting yourself wherever you are. Remember that it is totally acceptable if all you did this year is survive. 2020 has taught us that survival is a big deal. Make it your priority and everything else will fall into place at a later date.
Until Next Time,
Peace, Love & Breastmilk
Resources are below to assist you in connecting with a therapist in your area.
- Psychology Today
- Therapy for Black Girls
- Clinicians of Color
- Latinx Therapy
- South Asian Therapists
- Talk Space
- Open Path Psychotherapy Collective
The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.