By Melanie Prince, CMSA President
The holiday season is one of the most important times of the year for all of us to strengthen connections with one another. As I reflect on the past two years of my presidency at CMSA, I am reminded of the outstanding accomplishments of CMSA leaders on our agenda around connectivity. We developed new initiatives, programs and innovative ways to communicate with case managers around the world because of our commitment to our “3-C” agenda: collaboration, connectedness and a culture of community. Connectedness is a state of play that must be intentional, recurring and nurtured to achieve constancy. This time of year, I advocate for connectedness with one another and the community at large. Why? The holiday season is not full of joy for everyone and sometimes our friends, colleagues and loved ones may need us to help them cope with this busy time of year.
Conditions of our heart and health may prevent us from fully enjoying the holiday season. Dr. Boris Lushniak, United States Surgeon General in 2013, described how stress can impact our health with symptoms such as headaches, irritability, trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, cardiovascular disease, digestive problems, back pain and weakened immune system. As we continue to manage the challenges of the pandemic, a weakened immune system makes us more vulnerable to influenza, COVID-19 or other coronaviruses. Our health can also be affected by a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Seasonal affective disorder is a mood disorder characterized by depressive symptoms that occur in conjunction with fall or winter season and coincidentally with the holiday season. More information about SAD can be found at https://familydoctor.org/condition/seasonal-affective-disorder. The conditions of our heart may result in loneliness, feelings of helplessness from the burdens of overwork, unmet expectations in family situations, unrealized personal goals for the year, societal pressures associated with the holidays. The danger is that the holiday season may become so busy that we do not recognize signs of heart and health symptoms in the people we care about.
What can we do to ensure we are connected to our friends, colleagues and families in meaningful ways? These are my 10 ABCs for the holidays...Acts to Build Connectedness.
- Learn more about SAD, causes of holiday stress, signs and symptoms to be aware
- Contact friends, colleagues, families in a way that allows you to “see” their faces and nonverbal body language. Yes, virtual modalities may be the way, i.e., FaceTime, Zoom, Duo, etc.
- Invite, cajole, wrangle them into a lunch, a social event, movie, church…anything that brings connected engagement and interpersonal interaction
- Partner with a friend, colleague or family member with exercise and healthy eating activities
- Share mindfulness sessions and perform them together
- Commit to a bedtime routine to ensure restful sleep
- Schedule time for short “check-in chats”…but they must be meaningful and probing
- Support each other by finding ways to reduce stress together
- Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others!
Let’s help each other to truly make this the most wonderful time of the year. Happy holidays!
Galima, S.V., Vogel, S.R. & Kowalkski, A.W., 2020. Seasonal Affective Disorder: Common Questions and Answers. American Family Physician, 102(11): 668-672. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2020/1201/p668.html
Kurlansik, S.L. & Ibay, A. 2012. Seasonal Affective Disorder. American Family Physician, 86(11): 1037-1041. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2012/1201/p1037.html
Lushniak, B. 2013. Surgeon Generals Perspective: Holiday Season Stress Free. Public Health Report Nov-Dec; 128(6): 434 – 435. doi: 10.1177/003335491312800602