Thanksgiving is right around the corner and as we look at celebrating this time to give thanks for things in our lives, I have to stop myself and ask is this the time to be thankful?
Holidays are stressful for a lot of people no matter what the circumstances. This year, I had planned to have a family celebration. Under 10 people but still to be a celebration to say we are getting through this time and there are still great things in our lives. Now, Covid numbers are on the rise and the government is taking action to help keep us safe and are saying to limit celebrations to household. Even though I fully support restrictions to keep us safe, it still is another disappointment in a year of disappointments.
There is a time for everything – a time to laugh, a time cry and everything emotion in-between. So where are we now? Is it a time to laugh or a time to cry? I heard Ontario’s associate minister of mental health and addictions, Minister Michael Tribollo, speak a couple of weeks ago and he said the 4th wave of Covid will be mental health issues. I do not believe that to be true. We are already experiencing an escalation in mental health issues, so it will not be coming, it is here. Part of why it is happening is because we have been suppressing our negative emotions about the disappointments in our lives.
I think we’ve all seen posts on social media with the theme “how can you complain?” These posts shame people if they are struggling which causes people to hide their true feelings. Acknowledging our hurts is essential for us to be able to function. It is also essential for us to acknowledge what we are grateful and thankful for. That is what keeps us balanced and healthy. Suppressing one or the other can cause physical stress on your body which can affect blood pressure, memory, and self-esteem. According to a study done at Stanford University it can also has social consequences.
The question is, which time is it? A time to laugh or a time to cry? For each person it is different depending on where you are in your life. It is about allowing yourself to feel your emotions whether they are happy, sad, angry, etc. At the same time accepting that the person next to you might be experiencing a different emotion. That is ok too. When we accept each other where we are regardless of the situation creates around us a community of people who laugh and cry together.
Let’s allow this Thanksgiving to be a time of both celebration and grief. Sadness for the things we are missing, but also happiness for all the wonderful things that are around us. Keep thinking outside the box of ways to safely connect with loved ones and let them know you are thinking about them. And make this holiday special for yourself.