Zoom Into 2021 With a Renewed Sense of Hope
Embrace change, take time to reflect and remain optimistic.
Posted Dec 15, 2020
Since the emergence of the pandemic, I have dedicated most of my blog posts to tips on how to avoid becoming trapped by stressors like fear, anxiety, and depression, which can hurt your mental health. We’re just two weeks away from ending the most challenging and unimaginable year most of us have ever experienced. Unfortunately, we lost too many lives in 2020 and many families are grieving and trying to piece their lives back together after losing their loved ones, jobs, businesses, and financial security. There’s no immediate fix for this crisis, so for my last blog post of the year and this holiday season, I want to encourage everyone to focus on hope.
Use the holiday season as an opportunity to manifest a brighter future. Concentrate on the progress that is coming, not the time lost or will still be challenging. Take the time to reflect and remain optimistic about the silver linings that have resulted from these challenging months. Embrace the opportunity to spend more quality time with some family members, enhance your personal growth, take time to slow down, rekindle one of your hobbies, and make healthier life choices.
The pandemic has fueled and exacerbated many mental health issues, but people are also responding with incredible resiliency. In fact, a recent nascent study (by nih.gov, 2020) showed that although there was an initial increase in substance use at the beginning of the pandemic through June, there have been noticeable decreases in substance abuse during the extended duration of lockdown. People are taking the time to self-evaluate and re-channel their coping strategies, which I’m witnessing firsthand with some of my clients.
Do everything you can to avoid becoming depressed in these last weeks and mentally prepare yourself to kick off the new year on a positive note. I can’t offer a foolproof formula to guarantee success, but here are some suggestions which may help to tip the scales in your favor over the holidays.
1. Make a New Year’s resolution that is independent of the pandemic. Pick a goal you’re passionate about accomplishing in 2021. Make sure you can realistically see it through, and spikes in the virus or any delays in distribution of the vaccine can't adversely affect it. Look towards the future feeling like you’re the captain of your life, instead of feeling like your life is controlling you.
2. Figure out creative and fun ways to engage with family members you can’t see in person. Plan weekly family activities or classes you can conduct on Zoom, like cooking, art projects, Yoga, or other forms of physical fitness. Or create discussion groups about popular television series or books. You can also tailor options that cater to your family’s unique talents. Try to be proactive and avoid falling into bouts of boredom or relying on talking on the phone when little is happening, so there’s nothing to talk about.
3. Spruce up and decorate your living space during the holidays. Many of my clients have shared a noticeable lift in their spirits from decorating and making their home look and feel more festive. Be interactive and share the joy of how beautiful your home looks with family and friends through pictures on social media, FaceTime or Zoom.
4. If you’re not able to create the holiday spirit indoors, consider decorating outside as an alternative. Hang some lights or a wreath on your door. Or plan family “field trips” and drive by neighborhoods with outdoor festive lighting and holiday decorations in your vicinity. The best way to decrease moodiness and sustain brighter spirits is to stay active and don’t succumb to the triggers of boredom and depression.
The holidays have a beginning and an end, so try to start each day off with a sense of hope and optimism. Renewing that commitment every day will help you sustain more pleasure throughout the holidays and a more hopeful outlook for next year.
"Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Suicidal Ideation during the COVID-19 Pandemic—United States, June 24-30, 2020," by Mark E. Czeisler et all, www.nih.gov, August 8, 2020