By Rhonda Williams, LCSW
It’s the holiday season, with many people reporting feeling anxious and more stressed than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic, the economy, the world and local events are more front and center than ever before, thanks to the internet. The National Council for Mental Wellbeing summarizes the overall state of mental and physical wellness as greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly intensified mental health.
Having happy holidays is not impossible, but we as humans often struggle with balance. Depending on our individual personalities, strengths and weaknesses, we can get off balance very quickly. So instead of teetering on the brink of exhaustion, anxiety or depression, there are simple steps that mental health experts continue to encourage that can help you and yours to enjoy a holiday season packed full with fun – not stress. As a mental health professional, I review the best practice guidelines and then try to make it as simple as possible for myself and others to benefit from. I share this acronym and remind myself of it as well. As the holiday season unfolds, prepare and focus on a quick balance check I call SHARE. When stress goes up, increase your SHARE.
Spirit: Set aside time to nurture your spirit. This might include a walk in the woods, a religious event, a quiet time of meditation, song or thankfulness. Whatever it is, do what nurtures your spirit.
Health: Keep health habits going; exercising, eating nutritious food and caring for yourself and others’ health and safety go a long way in helping the holiday season run smoothly.
Attitude: Activate an attitude of gratitude and grace for yourself and others. Holidays have many meanings and memories. Remember that people are coping with much more under the surface, so give grace to yourself and others and focus on the things to be thankful for.
Rest and relaxation: We require rest, relaxation and recreation for us to rejuvenate and refresh, so take that nap, sip that relaxing tea or cocoa, and get a good night’s rest so you can relax your way to renewal.
Emotions: Be aware of your emotions, and take time to recognize when you feel stressed, rushed or pressured. Slow down and do a quick balance self-check. Share your feelings with a trusted friend or therapist that can help you reset the positives. Self-kindness will help you and your friends and family to enjoy positive emotions through the holiday season. Keeping SHARE in mind is a simple way to SHARE the Joy!
The writer is supervisor of Older Adult Clinical Services at the Department of Community and Human Services.