A test of mental strength.

The Road To Mental Wellness > Mental Health > A test of mental strength.

This holiday season will be a test of mental strength for all of us.

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Today is the first week of December 2020. Hard to believe that Christmas is just weeks away. Ordinarily, I would be excited for the season but this year? This year, it’s hard to know how to feel. With an uptick in COVID-19 cases, we may be limited to spending it with the people we live with. Although this is a hard pill to swallow, I understand the seriousness of the times we are living in.

In times such as these, I feel that we have a right to be disappointed. And it’s understandable that anxiety is high for most. In spite of this, though, we can still choose where to put our energy. Albeit easier said than done; there’s no denying that it will be a test of mental strength.

Yet, it is possible. So, for example, while we may not be able to gather with our loved ones, we can still choose to embrace the day with those we are with. Furthermore, for those of us who are alone, it would go a long way to boost spirits if we use things like video chat to connect and participate in the joy of the day.

How to use video chat to connect at Christmas.

Whatever happens, I am determined to do two things: 1) Make the best of it and 2) give myself permission to be sad about it. Let’s face it, it’s not exactly ideal, so I will set aside a bit of time to process that sadness, acknowledge that it is an appropriate response to the situation, and then I will dive headfirst into a merry, modified Christmas.

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I think it’s best to mentally prep for the day in advance. Having PTSD, I know it will try and steer me into the worst-case-scenario thinking. Therefore, it is imperative to help myself by saying “Yes, it sucks, but this year we will sacrifice to ensure that we can all gather next year.”

For me, the holidays have always been my epicentre of gratitude. For years now, I have been using the festive season as a way to maximize my appreciation for all those I love. Essentially, when December 25 rolls around, and we are all still here, I breathe that in. This makes me happy and emphasizes for me the importance of family.

Thankfully, this perspective works well for me. It will, without a doubt, be something that I think about a lot for the next few weeks. I know we can make the best out of these unprecedented times. Think not so much of this year but look forward to the next. I will keep telling myself this.

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Equally helpful, is my experience in the emergency services. Despite the fact that these years have damaged me – what seems like beyond repair – it has also taught me the frailty of life and thus, its necessity to embrace it. This includes learning to prioritize your time with those you love. Life really is but a flash in the pan.

This reality begs the question: if life is frail and over in the blink of an eye, what do we do to maximize it with the things that matter most? One answer, I think, is to do what’s best for those you love this year. We have the technology now to have a modified version of our most treasured of days. And while it will be a test of our mental strength, I am really excited that we have the ability to see our loved ones.

Please, be safe and have a great holiday season. We shall overcome.

Warmest wishes, Jonathan.

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Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Arenburg is a mental health blogger, S speaker, writer, and published author; He is also the host of the mental wellness podcast, #thewellnesstalksHe has also appeared in the i'Mpossible's Lemonade Stand III. He has also been a contributing writer for Mental health talk, a column in his local paper. In addition, he has also written for the mental health advocacy organization; Sick Not Weak.Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health-related podcasts Including: A New Dawn, The Depression Files, Books and Authors, and Men Are Nuts. Since being put off work because of PTSD, Jonathan has dedicated his time to his mental wellness journey while helping others along the way.Educated as an addictions' counsellor, he has dedicated most of his professional life of eighteen years, working with those who have intellectual disabilities, behavioural challenges, and mental illness.He has also spent fifteen years in the volunteer fire service helping his community.His new book (2021), “The Road To Mental Wellness,” goes into detail about his life-long battle with depression, anxiety and more recently, PTSD. In it, he hopes to provide insight on how mental illness cultivates over a lifetime and, if not recognized and treated, how it impacts the entirety of one's life; right from childhood into the adult years. Jonathan lives with his two children in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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