The holidays look and feel different this year. Despite the nonstop ads telling us this is the most wonderful time of the year, and multiple cable channels broadcasting happily-ever-after movies from now until the end of the year, this is not your average holiday season.
The holidays are often a time to celebrate together with family and friends, but they can also be a time of stress and anxiety. Many of us feel exhausted and unfulfilled as we try to live up to unrealistic expectations of planning the perfect holiday. For those of us away from our loved ones or without close connections, it can be a time of loneliness. When you add the COVID-19 pandemic to all of this, it seems 2020 presents a triple threat to our brain health.
So what can we do to protect our brain health and truly enjoy the holidays? Let’s tackle these triple threats one at a time.
The first step toward a meaningful holiday is acknowledging that this season will be hard. Amid the hustle, try to pause and reflect about the meaning of the holidays. Instead of planning the perfect celebration, aim for good enough. Slow down, be present in the moment, and take time to actually enjoy your family/friends and traditions.
Loneliness isn’t about being alone; it’s about lacking those connections to others that make us happy, healthy, and productive. If we feel isolated and depressed, the holidays can amplify our feelings of being alone.
Remember, practicing physical distancing doesn’t have to include distancing ourselves socially. Try looking for ways to connect with others, like volunteering. There are plenty of ways to volunteer virtually, such as providing online administrative support to nonprofit organizations or donating much-needed funds.
Physical distancing is critical in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that we forgo the large family gathering this year and keep the guest list small. Outdoors is safer than indoors, and our beautiful Florida weather makes an outdoor event possible. A meal over Zoom may not be our idea of a holiday dinner, but it does give us a chance to gather, share stories, practice the true spirit of the holiday season, and share gratitude for those in our life.
The Brain Health Initiative needs your participation!
There’s still time to participate in the Brain Health Initiative Pilot Study. If you received one of the invitations sent to randomly selected adult residents from Lakewood Ranch, we encourage you to complete the online survey. The pilot study examines the ways you function mentally, socially, cognitively, and overall, as well as the factors in your life that present risk or promote resilience in brain health and performance. Community participation is critical to the study’s success.
The Brain Health Initiative (BHI) is a cutting-edge approach to protecting brain health, optimizing brain performance, and fighting brain illness across the lifespan. The BHI is creating a culture that promotes brain health protective factors and decreases risk factors, thereby improving brain health and optimizing brain performance outcomes for the Florida Suncoast region and beyond. Join the brain health movement, because brain health matters, and lifestyle makes a difference.
To learn more about the Brain Health Initiative and to become a Brain Health Champion, visit brainhealthinitiative.org.