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Q: The holidays have always been a stressful time for many of us. This year may be particularly tough to navigate for those affected by the pandemic in myriad ways. How can we help one another through this time of year?
A: As more people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and restrictions have eased, there's more of a celebratory spirit in the air with plans for family meals and holiday gatherings.
With so much to look forward to, it may be easy to cast aside the trauma we've all endured and the grieving process over the past 18 months. Some of us have put important plans on pause, suffered financial burdens, and lost loved ones during the pandemic. Additionally, many people are coming out of isolation and slowly adapting to being around groups again, even if they are spending time with family.
"Not only is it important to be mindful, respectful and patient with our friends and family who may be experiencing pain and grief this holiday season, but we should do so for ourselves," says Lisa Hardesty, licensed clinical health psychologist, Mayo Clinic Health System. "It's important this year to reflect on what we've endured, what we've learned and what we're grateful for, and we should share those thoughts and feelings with our loved ones."
As our holiday traditions unfold in the coming weeks, be mindful that grief can be triggered by seeing and holding special artifacts, such as ornaments, Christmas stockings, menorahs or special dishes reserved for important events.
"These objects hold incredible meaning because of the memories we associate with them," Dr. Hardesty says.
Everyone's feelings and mindset may be different, so here are some tips for navigating through the holidays:
"Patience is key this year," says Dr. Hardesty. "Be as kind to yourself as you are to those you love."
Mayo Clinic Health System consists of clinics, hospitals and other facilities that serve the health care needs of people in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The community-based providers, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive highest-quality physical and virtual health care close to home.