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Connect During the Holidays: You’re Not Alone

By Andrew McCarter

If you feel a spike in your anxiety or depression during the holidays, know that you’re not alone. Being inside during the cold months has always taken a toll on people, but now that we can’t get together with our loved ones and friends, it takes a more immense impact than ever before. According to the CDC, the coronavirus disease has been associated with mental health challenges to the morbidity, including stay-at-home orders. According to a recent survey, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that approximately 24% of people with a diagnosed mental illness find that the holidays make their condition “a lot” worse and 40% “somewhat” worse.” Approximately 300 individuals were included in this survey; many showed that the stay-at-home order affected them both mentally and physically.

During the summer months, it was easier to get together with friends and family because we were able to get together outside. People also may have felt less limited because we were able to take that walk; the risk of feeling isolated now is increasing. “People who suffer from anxiety and depression, for example, can have their already fragile emotions strained to the breaking point from all the stress of meeting holidays obligations,” says Alexandra Sifferlin, a reporter at TIME who covers health-related topics.

Holiday gatherings are going to be quite different than in previous years. Things may be open in your state, and many Americans may feel like they can get together with their family members, but it is not worth that risk. In the colder months, COVID-19 can spread faster as do other respiratory viruses. So, sitting at the table with friends and family members is not a good idea this year, especially if you want to celebrate future holidays. Just because we may have to stay-at-home does not mean we should give up all hope. The holidays are a great time to show love to others and yourself. We are here to give you some tips on some at-home activities and how you can move forward with your holiday plans.

Here are our suggestions:

Host a Zoom Holiday Party! Everyone is invited!

Just because you’re not meeting your loved ones in person doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the holidays with your friends and loved ones. You can still do all the events that you usually do at your home. You may even host a holiday work party; there is no

shortage of how to turn anything into a Zoom party. You may have a BYOB Cocktail

hour with your employees. If you’re not a drinker, try other holiday drinks

sans the alcohol.

Make Face Masks!

Many of us have shirts that we may no longer use, maybe even a shirt Walk for Kidneys. What better way to reuse it by making a mask or maybe come up with other creative ideas!

Start Your Fundraising Drive!

Fundraising from home is a lot easier than what many people may think. There are a few ways you can fundraise for NKFI! Facebook pays all the processing fees for you, so 100% of your donation goes directly to our organization!

Another great way is through our official website. The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois has made it easier than ever for supporters like you to conduct your own, unique fundraising efforts. Through our digital #TeamKidney platform, you can run a variety of do-it-yourself appeals.

Remember, we make it easy for you to start! Have your friends and family join in on the fun!

Festive Baking

Who says you need to bake in the same kitchen? Rudolf is hungry, and he will need something to eat! This year traditions shouldn’t change. Chinese Almond Cookies are also a great option! You can still get on Zoom and make your gingerbread house with your friends and family!

Watch a Holiday Film!

You, your friends and family should still watch those holiday films together! Hop on zoom and watch the movie that you always remember for the Holidays. We should all stay connected during these times, and what better way is there than watching a movie with friends and family. Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party) integrates a single screen and chat function for groups wanting to view something on either Netflix, Disney, HBO, or Hulu. If your group is more into YouTube videos and drama, Airtime is your way to co-watch. It is easy, and you can still have snacks and get cozy without leaving your home!

Holiday Game Night!

Depending on whom you’re playing with, it can be fun and educational! Play blackjack with your friends and play Candy Land with your children and family! Another great idea is to play holiday bingo! There are printable Christmas Bingo Games, so it easy for you and your family to do! Tell everyone to grab some cookies, eggnog and put on their favorite holiday sweater for a special game night.

Secret Santa! (Shh! It is a secret!)

Just because you may think it may be impossible to host Santa at your party, remember that anything is possible during the holidays! Plan on a friend/family member to be a secret Santa and have him hop on zoom! The children and family will love it! Elfster is a great resource to use for this! It is a free gift exchange website to make gift-giving easier for everyone!

Don’t Forget to Call Your Loved Ones!

Many of the options above require the use of Zoom. Not everyone may be able to access Zoom, possibly because they simply don’t have internet or technology. Remember always to call that loved one to show that they are in your thoughts and that you’re there for them!

These are just a few ideas on how you can celebrate the holidays! Remember, we are all in this together, and no one should feel alone during the holidays. We are here to support you in any way that we can. We will all get through this together, but we also need to stay safe for ourselves and our loved ones! Remember, you can always gift someone with respect! Wear a mask and keep your distance during the holidays! We all want to make it through this!

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