Thriving Through the Holidays

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December 15, 2022

African American Mental Health and Wellness (AMEN) team is collaborating with KAZI FM 88.7 in producing a radio series to highlight the importance of addressing mental health and physical wellness in the African American community. The monthly series will feature AMEN team members from the School of Nursing, leaders from Mt. Zion Baptist and Rehoboth Baptist churches, and community organizations who provide mental health resources and support in Travis County. 

Thriving Through the Holidays

December 14, 2022 Podcast:

Audio file

Co-moderators Shannon W. Jones and Jacki Hecht recognize that holidays are often thought of as a time of celebration with family and friends. For others, especially those who have experienced significant loss, the holidays can trigger feelings of loneliness and grief. For many, it’s a bit of both. In this episode, Jacki Hecht and Shannon Jones discuss the often unspoken or hidden feelings around grief and loneliness to make this holiday season a bit sweeter.

During the holiday season, many of us experience physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges. Less physical activity and sleep combined with increased consumption of alcohol and rich food can throw our bodies out of balance. Those who have experienced loss (of a person, job, lifestyle, etc.) may feel this loss more intensely over the holidays. In addition, focusing on the numerous commercial aspects and external demands often associated with the holidays can lead people feeling spiritually disconnected.

Being away from loved ones and the isolation imposed by this pandemic has led to increased feelings of loneliness and grief, which are often amplified during the holiday season. Jacki shares that over 6 million people have died due to COVID-19-related illnesses, which has left many people feeling a sense of emptiness. If you or a loved one has been experiencing feelings of loneliness, it is important to remember that you are not alone. Many of us feel alone at different times in our lives, especially when we are grieving. And we tend to suffer more when we isolate and try to manage on our own. Rather, healing often happens through connection with others. Relatedly, when we become aware of the suffering of others, it reminds us that this is a collective and communal experience, which may help us (and others) feel less alone.

It is important to recognize and validate our emotions during this holiday season and give ourselves “permission to feel.” Recognizing “grief as love” can help us focus on ways to carry that love forward as part of the healing process. Reaching out to family, loved ones, or a support network can help us feel less alone during the holiday season and into the new year. Finding ways to honor our loved ones who can’t be physically with us can also help us keep them near and dear to our hearts. Adding new rituals that feel restorative and nourishing such as being out in nature, resting, and taking time for oneself can also help us in our healing journey.

"To ease another's heartache is to forget one's own." Abraham Lincoln

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