Our interactions with each other have transformed in major ways this year. With COVID-19 cases still rising as we head into the holiday season, connecting with loved ones will continue to look different this winter. After a year of navigating how to best support vulnerable individuals, families, and communities, establishing ways to stay grounded has been a key to successfully navigating 2020.
Self-care is essential in anchoring ourselves, regulating our emotions, and balancing the varying stressors of personal and professional life. Even as many of us continue to physically distance from our families, friends, and colleagues, we can find ways to bridge the gaps and create new traditions for connecting during the holidays by using technology.
Virtually connecting with loved ones:
Here are some small ways to virtually connect with your support systems this holiday season and into the new year:
- Connecting by cooking: Trying out a new recipe or making a traditional dish with family and friends virtually is a great way to spend time together while being apart physically. With many people now ordering groceries online, you can order the grocery items needed with little contact, and both plan on cooking the same dish. By doing a video call, you can share in preparing and eating a meal together with a loved one. Schedule a meal and find a recipe you would like to try together and plan a time to do your own cooking show with a loved one! You can both put a spin on the same dish and sit down and dig in together, while also staying safe if you must be physically distanced.
- Creating holiday crafts or baking holiday treats can also be a lovely way to connect with your greater community. In a recent blog post, guest blogger C.C. Gallagher covered tips for supporting military families, including sending care packages and cards to service members and their families.
- Virtual wellness activities: Practicing mindfulness is especially important during hectic times. While the holiday season is often a time of joy and togetherness, the factors and challenges many professionals have had to face this year have led to feelings of isolation and stress. Connecting with family and friends and creating new routines can look different. During quarantine, my friends and I started doing weekly virtual yoga sessions. This has been a great way to connect with my closest friends and check-in with them and how they are each week while also incorporating consistent physical activity.
- Rest: Each of us has experienced unique and significant challenges both personally and professionally. As this year comes to an end, find time to rest physically and emotionally. Use some holiday downtime to unplug from your phone, computer, and email. Find time for yourself to explore a new adventure or to rediscover an old past time you’ve missed recently. Bundle up and go on a walk and enjoy some sunshine in the cold weather. If the holiday weather is too cold outdoors, snuggle in and plan a Christmas movie marathon! Make some popcorn and hot chocolate. You can also connect by planning a virtual viewing party, as many streaming services now offer “party” style options in which you can stream with loved ones around the globe.
Family Development had two webinars in October focused on public health and victim service professionals working daily with families and the important work home visitors have been doing as they adapt to providing virtual support. Here are a few tips we covered in the first “Healthy Moms, Happy Babies” webinar you can take into the holiday season and the new year:
- ABCs of Mindful Self-Regulation:Check-in with how stress impacts your body and becoming aware of both the physical manifestations and mental effects situations have on you. Taking time to check in with ourselves and decompress from all the stressors brought on by the uncertainty of COVID and quarantines is vital to the work you do, and using these short ABC’s of awareness, balance, and connection can be a quick reminder of how best to do that.
- Mindful Self-Regulation (MSR) Strategies: Though you probably have strategies for self-care and centering your wellness already in your personal toolkit, presenter Rebecca Levenson provided a refresher on some basic strategies that can be incorporated into most situations. These small strategies consisted of taking a moment to breathe in and
out deeply while focusing on your breath, placing both your feet on the ground and finding stability, providing words of encouragement and positivity to yourself, and/or imaging a place or thing that brings your comfort. These are a few key things you can do at any time to provide a bit of self-care on the fly.
- Reading Our Own Cues: As we prepare for a new year, practicing these mindfulness techniques regularly can help in establishing wellness for oneself. Incorporate these strategies into your daily work and begin to notice how your body, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors are impacted when you feel balanced versus when you feel overwhelmed and dysregulated from your norm. Each of these tips can help in building a strong foundation for when times do become challenging and for when these tools can be the most useful.
- You can watch the archived recording of the first webinar focusing on Supporting Staff to Help Families Remotely here. Continuing education credits are also available if you would like to track this session in your professional development training, find CE info on the event page here.
Read more about the importance of self-care during the pandemic and tips for incorporating self-care into your daily routines with these other MFLN blogs!
- Dealing with Depression: Self-Care for Early Childhood Professionals During the COVID-19 Pandemic https://militaryfamilieslearningnetwork.org/2020/12/02/dealing-with-depression/
- The Importance of Self Care for Military Caregivers and Families https://militaryfamilieslearningnetwork.org/2020/05/11/the-importance-of-self-care-for-military-caregivers