Reinforcing our ties with family and friends (including coworkers) is more important than ever. These connections can be an antidote to despair and anxiety.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” This memorable line from the holiday song recorded by Andy Williams continues to be on our minds as the holiday season ends and we look ahead to the new year. Although the holidays are over, we can still celebrate the blessings of family and friends (including colleagues) throughout the year.
While for some, this year may be happier than last with more in-person gatherings and travel, for others, family gatherings and vacations may continue to be cancelled. And many are still grieving the loss of loved ones.
Is it possible to hold onto the “wonderful,” even though our lives continue to be affected by COVID and its variants? For ourselves, and for our patients and their families, I think it is indeed possible. As in any situation of prolonged stress and challenge, it’s easy to feel defeated, overwhelmed, and demoralized. At times like these, reinforcing our ties with family and friends is more important than ever. While we may not have an antidote to the coronavirus, connections with family and friends can be an antidote to despair and anxiety.
Consider these steps to strengthen and support the social connections you have with family, friends, and patients:
1. Recognize that emotions (yours and others’) may be mixed and include both positive and negative feelings. Accepting the co-existence of opposite feelings can be helpful. Both can be present without cancelling each other out.
2. Reach out by making a short phone call or email to patients or friends who may have had a hard year to express good wishes and say you are thinking of them.
3.Reflect on the positives that are in your life (and/or help your patients find the positives). No period of challenge is without some positive elements and taking time to acknowledge them aids in healing and sustaining emotional well-being.
This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.