As we are all asked to stay safer at home this holiday, I was thinking about ways to find joy even in a few moments each day. I know we will all have different circumstances in our world as we experience the holidays during the COVID public health emergency.
One way I find moments of joy each day is by “Being Kind to Each Other”. Being Kind goes a long way these days as all of us are experiencing stress in different ways throughout the day, weeks, and months of COVID.
I was thinking if each of us could practice “Being Kind” to our community members which include our family members, roommates, and household members, our friends and neighbors, our work community, and people we meet while out of our homes would my experience of the world be a better place.
Science shows us that Kindness can reduce stress and anxiety. By Being Kind and helping others by holding a door open or complimenting a friend or parent we improve our outlook as well as our neighbors.
“Being Kind” to others can release endorphins just like exercise and improve our mood as well as improve our relationships with others. Research shows that Being Kind to others is good for your heart and can help you live longer.
We all know that eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep can help us feel better. Science has also included “Being Kind” to others as a way to feel better.
The holidays can be a stressful time during normal times much less during a year when we have all been tested to learn to live safely by wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, and washing our hands often.
Here is a list of activities to practice during the holidays to improve our moods:
1. “Being Kind” while communicating will strengthen connections with loved ones and friends while providing opportunities to really listen and help others during this stressful time.
2. Remembering to take time to recognize your feelings is important. If we have experienced losses this year we may need to take time to feel our feelings and acknowledge our grief. Some of us have experienced economic hardship, some of us have lost loved ones, some of us lost our homes, some of us lost jobs, and many of us have felt a loss of freedom to feel safe as we move through the world. Some of us may lose the ability to be with our families for our holiday gatherings this year. Take time to acknowledge the loss or change in our holiday rituals or routines. If we can be creative we may find new ways to celebrate with our extended family and friends in our communities. Many of us will utilize free ZOOM apps or free conference calls to connect with friends and family as a group safely.
3. Instead of a gift exchange, we could donate to a local food bank as many families are food insecure or find other ways to get involved with community projects that help others. “Being Kind” can include helping a neighbor who is challenged and unable to get out due to underlying health conditions.
4. Mindfulness affirmations can help us center our minds on the important aspects of life.
Find a comfortable sitting position with your feet on the floor.
While breathing deeply you can state the following affirmation:
May I be Healthy,
May I be Happy,
May I be Safe,
May I be Free from internal harm,
May I be Free from external harm.
Practicing Breathing Techniques-
Just talking five deep breaths can calm down your brain.
Try breathing in 5 counts, then breathing out 5 counts, repeat 5 times.
How did that make you feel?
5. Physical Activity can improve our mood. Take a walk daily to reduce stress or listen to music and dance in your living room.
What do you enjoy doing? Move your body your mind will follow.
6. Remember to find ways to play and have planned fun. Ideas for holiday fun safer at home: Complete a puzzle with the kids, have a family game night, play a board game on Zoom with friends, create art together, color outside the lines or get creative with baking. As we play it creates opportunities to laugh and reduce stress while enjoying our connections with others.
7. Eating healthy foods can improve your mood. Look at choosemyplate.gov with your children to see resources on developing lifelong healthy eating habits.
8. Be Kind to Yourself and practice self-care activities. Self-care ideas can include activities that you find pleasurable. Here are a few ideas: Take a nature walk or play at the park. Read a book. Sit in the sun for 10 minutes. Sing a song. Take a bubble bath. Take a nap. Limit TV time or limit watching the news if the content is upsetting to you. May I suggest making a list of activities you enjoy and try to commit to doing one activity a week.
9. Try to stick to a sleep schedule for the holidays. Sleep health works best if we get up at the same time every day and go to sleep at the same time every day.
10. Please remember to practice compassion with yourself and others during this intense time. Be kind to others as we don’t know what others have experienced or lost during 2020. If you can please tell the people you love how you feel about them and what they mean to you.
If you have not been connecting with others, not eating right, and/or not exercising and are experiencing feelings of hopelessness and/or a loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy, please reach out to and connect with a trusted friend or relative.
Please also remember to seek professional help if you need it. The ACCESS line at the Department of Mental Health is a 24/7 line that can provide referrals for adults and children as well as provide emotional support. 1-800-854-7771.