This is part of a series of stories about how you can use the myStrength wellness portal and app to enhance your emotional well-being. In this installment, Ayzha Corbett, manager of Johns Hopkins' mySupport Program and a clinician, takes a look at the changes we face in the upcoming holiday season.
As the holidays near, most people are reminded of the traditions that they look forward to sharing with family members, close friends, and loved ones. This year, things may be different. Will families still gather in the traditional way, or will family gatherings be physically distant? Will family members travel, or will they decide to stay home to be safe? These are questions being asked by so many. And just as quickly as these questions are asked and answered, the feelings of disappointment that come along with changed plans may begin to appear.
MyStrength, a free resource to support the emotional well-being of Johns Hopkins employees and their household family members, offers the following tips for handling changed plans and disappointment during the holidays:
1. Check your expectations. COVID-19 has forced so many to reconsider and rearrange expectations. Disappointment happens when there is disconnect between what is actually happening and what a person thinks should happen. Take a few minutes to think about what you expected this holiday season to look like, what it actually will look like now, and how you feel about the change.
2. Feel your feelings. It is natural to feel a full range of emotions when your expectations are not met. It is OK to feel disappointed, sad, or angry about changes to holiday plans. It is important to feel your feelings because avoiding them could intensify them. On average, it takes an emotion 90 seconds to intensify before it begins to subside. Try using a timer and setting it for 90 seconds to give yourself the space to feel your feelings.
3. Find gratitude. Give thanks. Although it may be hard to shift to new and adjusted traditions, finding a way to express gratitude and give thanks can be a way to lighten the load. During this difficult time, try writing three things that you are grateful for and sharing them with family, friends, and loved ones. You'd be surprised at how this may brighten your day and that of those closest to you.
4. Accept change. Since the start of the pandemic, our acceptance skills have been put to the test. Think of all the things that you have been able to accept up until this point—working from home, virtual learning for children, etc. Acceptance does not mean that you like something; it just means that you recognize it to be true. Find new ways to put your acceptance skills into use during this holiday season. This could mean using myStrength for modules on mindfulness, meditation, and balancing intense emotions.
One especially useful feature of the myStrength app is that it lets you track your well-being with a regular emotional health "check-in." In addition, an entire module is dedicated to radical acceptance; it speaks about accepting the circumstances and situations that we cannot change and finding a way to move beyond them.
If you are concerned about yourself, or someone else, experiencing anxiety, stress, depression, or disappointment as we head into the holidays, professional support is available to employees and their household family members 24/7 through the mySupport program by calling 443-997-7000, option 2, or by clicking here to schedule an appointment.
Now, more than ever, how you handle changed plans and disappointment during the holidays is important. MySupport will be offering Coping & Thriving webinars to help you navigate loneliness and find joy during the holidays. Learn more about mySupport here.