I know I should feel joyful when I see the beautiful Marco angels and other symbols of the holidays around town. But, all I’m feeling is hopelessness.
Scary virus statistics, holidays without family, traditions like parades, special church services, holiday lunch with friends—-all canceled. What can I do to restore hope and bring light back into my life during this holiday season?
Even though the holidays are altered this year, there’s always some source of light in the darkness. The challenge is how to find yours.
We know light because we have known its absence—darkness. History teaches us that we’ll emerge from the darkness as better people. Something to consider.
“Enough of the philosophical,” you say. Okay, here are some specific steps that may help you move past your feelings of hopelessness.
- Talk to someone. Don’t be ashamed about how you’re feeling. More people have low–grade depression right now than any time in the recent past. Talking to a trusted friend or relative is a great first step. You might be helping them also, giving them permission to express their feelings of despair.
- Join a group with common interests. You may be Zoomed out like I am, but I’m still grateful for the groups I meet with on a weekly basis. They give me a sense of connection and provide structure for my week.
- Set small, achievable goals. Create a daily to-do list. As you check off what you’ve accomplished, you’ll get a boost to your self-esteem. It can be as simple as: make soup, do laundry, make the bed.
- Take care of yourself and show yourself some empathy. Even when we have more time on our hands than usual, we often cheat ourselves on self-care. If you no longer feel safe going to the gym, create an exercise program you can do at home, manicure your nails, take a bubble bath. Have empathy for yourself in these unprecedented times. It’s okay to not be your usual vibrant self, it’s natural to feel sad about not seeing your grandchildren or other people you love, know that others are also mourning their losses.
- Remind yourself that “this too shall pass.” Hopelessness comes from seeing no light at the end of the tunnel. Assure yourself that there is light. If symbols mean something to you, light a candle every day to remind yourself of the light.
- If you’re seriously depressed and are experiencing extreme changes in your sleep, eating, or emotional behavior, seek professional help. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255 or text START to 741-741 to speak to a counselor immediately at the Crisis Text Line.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Carve a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.” This is one season out of many—know that you’ll come out of this stronger, with greater empathy and resilience.