It’s officially the holidays. The time of year that provides the opportunity to connect with family and friends (both near and far), and our communities. It’s the time of year that celebrates showing up for others and the importance of connecting with those who matter most. But as it goes every year, with the hustle and bustle of planning, travelling, cooking and everything in between, it’s easy to lose sight of the true gift the holidays bring: the magic of connection.
The holidays are also a time when we can prioritize reconnecting with ourselves and recharging our own batteries. While we know social connections are beneficial for our overall health and well-being, we also know it’s just as important to prioritize self-care1. Making time for activities that bring you joy, relaxation, and a sense of fulfillment will help protect your well-being and mental health2.
How you connect this season will be unique to you and your needs because there is no one right way to foster connection. For some, it could be getting together with friends and relatives for meals. For others, it might involve volunteering to support their community. For your neighbour down the street, it might mean FaceTiming or Zoom calls with family and friends across the country. For you, it might mean taking time to reflect on the past year and reconnecting with your thoughts, feelings and the things that bring you happiness.
However you decide to connect this holiday season, we’re here to support you and help you keep sight of the true magic this time of year can bring.
Connecting in person:
If the holidays bring you lots of togetherness with family and friends, remember the power of presence. Give your loved ones your full attention by putting away distracting devices. Try to engage in meaningful conversations with the intention of learning, understanding, and connecting.
We recognize that socializing in person during the holidays can be mentally demanding. Pay close attention to signs and signals from your body telling you that it’s time for a break. It’s okay to take a pause to ground yourself. Before heading into your gatherings, know what your boundaries are. Maybe there are topics of conversation that are off limits to you. Knowing beforehand can help you handle those situations if they arise.
Connecting with your community:
By engaging with your community, you’re contributing to a collective sense of joy and unity. Engaging with the community can decrease feelings of isolation and depression and increase feelings of belonging and identity3. It feels good to know that we can make a difference for someone. Here are a couple of ideas on how you can get involved:
- Volunteering: Serving meals at a shelter, participating in a neighborhood clean-up, or contributing to a holiday toy drive are a few ways to get involved this holiday season! It’s amazing what we can achieve when we show up together. We can help those who need a little light.
- Supporting local businesses: If you can, choose to support businesses unique to your city/town for your holiday shopping needs.
- Attending local events: Go to the local theatre for entertainment, parades or seasonal markets.
Sometimes geography gets in the way, and we can’t be in person with the people we love. Or sometimes, pandemics happen. This is a time where we can celebrate technology for bridging distances and creating more opportunities for connection.
Send a heartfelt message to a special person in your life and let them know that their mental health and well-being matters to you. Or even better, set up a FaceTime or Zoom call. Share your favourite holiday memory or words of kindness and compassion. Play a game of virtual Pictionary or plan a virtual dinner where everyone shares the recipes of the dish they made.
Reconnecting with yourself:
Give yourself the gift of reconnecting with you! The holidays aren’t for everyone and that’s okay. Or maybe this year, you’re just not feeling up to it – and that’s okay too. Listening to your body and giving it what it needs takes strength and self-awareness that should be celebrated and respected.
This year, you may want to self-reflect and get back in touch with you, your values and your personal goals. Take some time to reflect on your year, your growth and accomplishments. Make plans and set your intentions for the upcoming year.
If you are in crisis
9-8-8 is for anyone who is thinking about suicide, or who is worried about someone they know. Connect to a responder to get help without judgement. Call or text 9-8-8 toll-free, anytime for support in English or French. Call 9-8-8 (toll-free, 24/7) or text 9-8-8 (toll-free, 24/7). For more information, visit https://988.ca.
- How Does Social Connectedness Affect Health? | CDC
- Caring for Your Mental Health – National Institute of Mental Health | NIMH (nih.gov)
- Volunteering and health benefits in general adults: cumulative effects and forms | PMC (nih.gov)
*This article originally appeared on the CMHA National website