Wintertime can be challenging for many people, especially during this socially distant time. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, many family members were separated for the holidays and were not able to participate in their usual family traditions. It is so important to check in with your mental health and make extra efforts to connect with loved ones. Cold, snowy weather has even made outdoor dining and activities hard to find.
Connection is an essential component of mental health. This time of year can be lonely for many people, and those feelings may be heightened due to the conditions of this global event. Fortunately, the new year brings new opportunities and with COVID vaccines already being distributed, we may see an easing of lockdown restrictions in the latter half of 2021. Here are some simple ideas to help you connect with your community during this difficult time:
Organize a Virtual Event
Organizing a facetime game night can be a great way to spend time with family and friends. Virtual game nights allow you to interact with loved ones and have some fun while you’re at it! Some games that can easily translate to virtual include Charades and Pictionary, but this can also be a great opportunity to be creative! Find a game that the whole family will enjoy and adjust the rules to accommodate any challenges that may arise with video calls. There are also plenty of online games that accommodate multiple players – a quick Google search will show you all kinds of new options to explore.
A virtual cookie decorating night can also be a fun and interactive way to bond with friends and family. Everyone can be in charge of their own baking and decorating, but you can compare and share tips over a video chat. There is even the possibility of creating a bit of competition to encourage friends to step up their decorating skills. While it may not be quite the same as a cookie exchange, it can still be a great way to spread some joy and have a few laughs. Perhaps holidays or birthdays are coming up – try to use them as themes so that you and all of your loved ones can have a wonderful and memorable evening.
Create New Family Traditions
While there has been a lot of challenges over the past year, many of us have so much to be thankful for. Take some time to create some unique family traditions to help you and your loved ones feel closer, even though you may be far apart. That could be as simple as sharing some kind words over a phone call, having a virtual family dinner together, or organizing a Tuesday night facetime party. You could also start a virtual family talent show and livestream the performance for your friends.
While technology can be challenging in some instances, it can also create unique opportunities to connect with people we don’t usually get to, near and far. Everyone needs a little joy during isolation, so try to find some unique ways for your loved ones to share their cheer during these challenging times. If you have a tech-savvy family member, see if they’re willing to work with the less techno-capable members so they are able to fully enjoy the activities.
Seek Support Within Your Community
The COVID-19 pandemic has been life-changing for many members of our community, so it is more important than ever that we reach out to those in need. If you are able, seek out organizations that are supporting communities in need this holiday season. Likewise, ask for help if you are struggling. Overwhelming feelings of stress or anxiety can be difficult to manage on your own. Talk to those around you about how you are feeling, and do not be afraid to ask for support. The only way to get through this difficult time is if we all move forward together. Seek out support within your community and be generous with your support of others if you feel capable to do so.
It is so important to try to keep connected in any way that you feel possible, but it does start with YOU. While it may feel easier to admit defeat and just try again next year, there has never been a greater need to stay connected, than right now. Not many people like taking the first steps to set up a virtual gathering, but all it takes to get it started is one phone call, email, or text. Adjusting to the challenges of this pandemic can help you and your loved ones start to feel some sense of normalcy. With some simple adjustments, you can find a sense of connection even if you are physically far away from the people and places you call home. This winter season is unlike any other before it and we know that Seasonal Affective Disorder (AKA the winter blues) is a real issue. So be gentle with yourself and try to find opportunities to share joy with the people around you.