Do you remember, or have you heard about a time when one of the only ways we could keep in touch was by writing letters? Thinking about how isolated we all feel today, it is hard to believe that our older relatives only method of correspondence (and sometimes contact) was via the US mail – waiting weeks or more for a reply. It is equivalent to what’s now continuous contact with our anonymous Facebook “friends”, that we used to call “pen pals”.
The isolation created by the COVID pandemic is like nothing this generation has seen before. A report from The American Psychological Association warns that we are facing a national mental health crisis in America, and that 8 out of 10 surveyed list COVID as a significant source of stress (Beck 2020). Isolation, whether due to fear and anxiety or through health regulation, has a significant impact on health contributing to conditions such as depression, anxiety, and dementia (Leg & Caporuscio, 2020).
Individuals with a pre-existing mental illness may find this situation to be even harder than most. The isolation and lack of structure has left many to cope on their own. Without the skills to advocate for themselves or the necessary supports in place, COVID has left many foundering.
Now comes the holiday season. Long known as a difficult time for many Americans, the holidays can represent a significant source of stress. The stress of gatherings or the inability to gather with loved ones leaves many fearful. You will receive many lists this year on how to deal with holiday stress. But this year let’s go one step farther. Prepare ahead (just like a casserole). Reach out to family and friends who may be having a particularly hard time. Look for unusual or festive ways to connect (mail a letter even!). Bring some good old-fashioned holiday spirit in real and tangible ways. Below are some resources to help you as you prepare.
BUILD A TOOLKIT
Don’t wait until you are feeling isolated or stressed to search for support. Look for resources now that can help you cope in the future.
1. Connection is a key to mental health-
- Check in with yourself. How are you feeling? Angry? Stressed? Acknowledge those feelings.
- Take one small step towards feeling better (take a nap, go for a walk, meditate, or just breathe)
- Connect with others by phone, email, or write a card or letter
Read more about connecting with PEN PALS here
2. Reach out and connect to experts
3. Help Us – Help Others
Studies have shown that altruism is hardwired in the brain—and it’s pleasurable. Helping others may just be the secret to living a life that is not only happier but also healthier, more productive, and meaningful.
Rose Hill has been nominated for the DETROIT NEWS HOLIDAY CHEER FOR CHARITY CONTEST. Every VOTE for Rose Hill, could help us to win $20,000 that would be put towards programming and therapies for adults with Mental Illness.
Thank you for your support!