This LiveWell Jefferson Blog Series focuses on the best ways to create a healthy, happy, balanced work/home life. How do we thrive in this environment? We took a deep dive into researching practices that can make a difference, and you can view them all in the Series Intro Post: Thriving in the Telecommute. On April 3rd we focused on Practice #1: Explore from a Distance – How to make the most out of your weekends, decrease stress, and boost creativity. April 5th was all about Practice #2: The Power of Structure – Increasing Productivity and Decreasing Stress for You, Your Kids, and Your Pets During the COVID-19 Stay-At-Home Mandate.This post focuses on Practice #3: Prioritizing Mental Health. Mental Health is such a broad and important topic that we are going to discuss it in relation to COVID-19 with several blog posts. Stay tuned for posts about managing the brain’s response to change, incorporating mindfulness into your routine, and talking to kids about COVID19.
Today is about CELEBRATION! Passover began last night on April 8th, Easter Sunday is April 12th, and Ramadan begins on April 23rd. Whether or not you celebrate any of these, connection, interaction, and support play a critical role in our overall health and wellbeing. Humans are incredibly social creatures. Studies have repeatedly shown that a feeling of connection with others and a sense of belonging are fundamental human needs. We depend on social connectedness to maintain physical and psychological health as well as longevity.
Researchers have discovered that a feeling of connectedness benefits us in countless ways, including: strengthened immune system, faster recovery times, decreased rates of anxiety and depression, lower levels of stress, increased empathy towards others, higher self-esteem, increased ability to trust others, cooperate, and work with people, increased resilience when faced with challenging situations, and a more positive outlook, just to name a few.
Brene Brown, Professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, specializes in social connection. In an interview with Emma Seppälä Ph.D., she said, “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”
There is a direct link between our fundamental need for social connection and our innate desire to celebrate significant occasions.
In Seline Shenoy’s blog post, “5 Reasons Why It’s Important to Commemorate Special Occasions”, she says “Every culture, nation and tradition has developed its own unique ways of honoring special occasions…if we take a closer look, we’ll see that there is a common thread of themes that connects each and every one of them. We will see that all of these occasions center on universal human experiences such as love, sadness, joy, reverence, success and sacrifice.”
The feeling of connectedness makes us more resilient. Celebrating helps us cultivate a sense of community and deepen relationships with family and friends. We depend on these bonds, the common and connected ground we’ve established, to bounce back from trauma, crisis, and stress. It is more important now, during the COVID-19 Pandemic, than ever to reach out to loved ones, family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors for a circle of support.
In Emma Seppälä’s article, Social Connection Boosts Health. Even When You’re Isolated., she shares the following, “A sense of connection is internal: Researchers agree that the benefits of connection are actually linked to your subjective sense of connection. In other words, if you feel connected to others on the inside, you reap the benefits thereof! Ever felt lonely in a crowd or a group of your own acquaintances? In the same way, it is possible to feel connected in a group of strangers. That is good news. While many of us cannot always control the number of friends we have, one thing we can take responsibility for is the state of our mind. Even if you’re isolated and alone at home, you can generate feelings of connection to others and reap the health benefits thereof.”
Furthermore, we have the capacity and technology to connect with others in new and creative ways. Even though we can’t have a ‘typical’ gathering, we can still join family, friends, and our communities at large to celebrate. Here are a few social-distancing-friendly options for your holiday. We’ve also included health-conscious recipes to sweeten the deal! Scroll down for more…
WAYS TO CONNECT WITH YOURSELF & OTHERS:
- Practice loving-kindness meditation – studies show it can boost empathy and connection, while decreasing anger and depression à Thank You @AHANewOrleans for this Loving-Kindness Meditation Infographic
- Schedule video calls with several different groups to celebrate over the next few days and weeks
- Guides to Compare Video Conferencing Apps:
i. Worried about Zoom’s privacy problems? A guide to your video-conferencing options
ii. How to choose a free videoconference app
- Guides to Compare Video Conferencing Apps:
- Help your fellow community members by volunteering online
- DONATE to organizations that are assisting with resources for first responders, as well as food, medical supplies, and shelter for those in need
- Attend a Virtual Service
- Create new traditions – Instead of Easter eggs, hunt for painted rocks — or make and hide some yourself
- Learn more about the history of the holiday you are celebrating
- Try new recipes for old traditional dishes – cook with others in your house, or cook while you are on a video call and share the experience – Video: How to Make 18-Minute Matzah | 3 ways to decorate Easter eggs with things you probably have at home
- Take time to reflect on your experience through this crisis so far, focus on things you are most grateful for, and share with others
- Play online board games with friends and family
- Send warmth gratitude, and love via mail, text, and email
- Two Helpful Video Guides for Your Home Seder Needs
- See Sarah Hassaine’s Commentary: Social distancing forces us to get creative during Ramadan. Challenge accepted.
- Celebrate Passover by planning a “Virtual Seder” with a family or friend each night. If you plan to read from the Haggadah, consider a video conferencing app that allows for screen sharing, so you can all read from the same PDF as you celebrate
- Split up your Easter Weekend into multiple video celebrations with different contacts– brunch, cocktails, dinner, and dessert
- Hold a virtual Iftar on the first day of Ramadan
- Create a list of activities you typically do with guests and neighbors, and create virtual events for them
- Keep the party you typically plan and make it virtual. Christi Rice, Jefferson Chamber Office Manager & Executive Assistant, hosted a “Virtual Egg Dyeing Party” for her daughters, Mallory & Madison, and the photos are awesome! Check it out below!
HEALHTY DESSERT RECIPES FOR YOUR CELEBRATIONS:
- Blackberry Cobbler (American Heart Association)
- Grilled Fruit Kebabs with Balsamic Drizzle (American Heart Association)
- Healthy Mini Carrot Cakes (Swerve) Just 4 servings per batch – these are PERFECT for small celebrations
- Keto Chocolate Tart (Ochsner Health)
- Strawberry Shortcake English Scones (Ochsner Health)
If you found this information helpful, share it with others and give it a thumbs up @livewelljefferson on Facebook and Instagram! We want to hear from you! How are you connecting with friends and family members? Post your comments and questions in the comments section on today’s blog post on Facebook. #livewelljeffersonblog #covid_19 #livewelljefferson #jeffersonchamber
Written by Alex Zarookian, Director of Investor Relations & Special Events, Staff Liaison to the Jefferson Chamber’s Health & Wellness Committee
Edited by Emily Anderson, Director of Communication, Staff Liaison to the Jefferson Chamber’s Communication Committee
Connect to Thrive
The Power of Human Connection
Social Connection Boosts Health. Even When You’re Isolated.
If you hunker down against coronavirus, don’t stop reaching out, experts say
This year is not like all other years. Here’s how to find meaning in Passover anyway
Coronavirus: How do you celebrate a religious festival while social distancing?