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.


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 Reginald-Nixon Arenburg (Born January 14, 1976) is a Canadian mental health blogger, speaker, and published author. Retired from the fire service and long-term care fields, he has written and self-published an autobiographical account of his life-long battle with anxiety, depression and more recently, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Titled, The Road To Mental Wellness, he wrote it for what he calls “therapeutic release.” He published it in hopes it would help others going through similar mental health conditions. The sales of The Road To Mental Wellness have been steady selling over 300 copies since its release on October 10, 2021(World Mental Health Day). Arenburg has also been involved in a collaborative publication Called Lemonade Stand Volume III, a book featuring 20 authors who bravely tell their stories of PTSD. All authors where from the military and or emergency services. Published by Joshua Rivedal and Kathleen Myers for the i’Mpossible project, a mental health advocacy organization. Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health podcasts including The Depression Files, A New Dawn, and The Above Ground Podcast Arenburg has also consulted with the Government of Nova Scotia and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, the Honorable Brian Comer and Candidates for the New Democratic Party of Canada, on improving the mental health care system in Canada. Additionally, Jonathan was recognized in The Nova Scotia Legislature by the Honorable, Chris Palmer, Kings-North MLA, for his Book, The Road To Mental Wellness, his fight to make the mental health care system better. In addition, Chis acknowledged the support he gives to others.

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