Holiday Connections

 In Colorado Spirit

Welcome to the Weekly Well-Being Connection! Each week we will share advice from our clinical experts on ways to care for your mental health and well-being throughout COVID-19.

We are excited to have Ayla Cook, MSW, of the Colorado Spirit team write this week’s post.

The holiday season has usually been a time of joy and festive events. It can also present a list of demands that can lead to feeling overwhelmed and stressed. This year, the holidays may look very different for many people due to the impacts of COVID-19. Feelings of loss, isolation and the stress of managing an ominous future are heavy on the minds of all who have been affected by COVID-19. Implementing actions for stress management will be incredibly beneficial as we navigate this unprecedented holiday season.

Caregiver Stress Busters

Caregivers manage a lot of responsibility throughout the year. The holiday season can become daunting with additional tasks on your to-do list for the person you are caring for and yourself. Intentionally practicing flexibility can assist with holiday stress management by creating space to adapt our attitudes and expectations to what better suits our needs. A great way to practice this is by asking ourselves:

  • What is important to continue or participate in this holiday season?
  • What can I adapt or let go of?
  • Who can I ask to help me with this task?

Tips for Family Members

This year’s holiday festivities may not allow for togetherness in the same spaces due to physical distancing. Although this changes the way we can interact with one another, this does not remove the opportunity to create new positive holiday memories. This can be done by refocusing the intent of the tradition, rather than the activity itself.

Some physical distancing activities can include:

  • Share family recipes to swap in place of cooking together
  • Cookie decorating: send out cookie decorating items to family members and meet online to decorate together.
  • Holiday gift exchange: send items through postal service or drop off and connect over the phone or online to open items.
  • Family newsletter: Send updates to family members in a newsletter. This can include fun photos, activities, and more.
  • Celebrate the new: holidays can be a time to reflect on moments past. Use this as a time to celebrate the new positive experiences. For example, new babies in the family, new goals, or goals achieved? Using gratitude reflections can be helpful for this activity.

To gather or not to gather?

Many are struggling this year to decide if they will be gathering with loved ones or if they would like to continue with physical distancing. Although many medical health professionals encourage continued physical distancing, it will be up to individuals to decide for themselves and their families.

Below are some considerations for gathering this holiday season:

  • Consider the level of COVID-19 community spread where you live and where guests are traveling from.
  • Consider your ability to physically distance indoors and how many people you can accommodate safely.
  • Discuss and agree on safe behavior from all guests before, during, and after the event.
  • Ask your guests if they would be open to trying a virtual gathering, drive by parades, or outdoor visits. While we know it can be difficult to start this conversation, we have heard a lot of examples of times when the conversation was on the mind of others too, and there is relief that someone had the courage to bridge the subject.

The overall goal of holidays is to give each other the gift of our attention, kindness, and time. Think about ways this can be shared with those you hope to spend time with and ask them how they would like to connect over the holidays in a way that keeps them safe and comfortable.

Would speaking to someone help?

To speak with someone in the Colorado Spirit Program about stress related to the pandemic, please call 720-707-6789 or visit our web page at www.allhealthnetwork.org/Colorado-Spirit

For information about other services at AllHealth Network or to get connected with ongoing behavioral health support, please call: 303-730-8858.

AllHealth Network is continuing to provide service via telehealth or by phone and our Crisis Walk-in Center remains open 24/7. To learn more about what other community mental health centers are doing, please visit The Colorado Behavioral Health Council COVID-19 website.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and are in need of immediate assistance, please call the Colorado Crisis Hotline at 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255

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