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Honoring Traditions, Old and New

December 8, 2023

A mom and two children make gingerbread cookies.

Traditions are a powerful part of human culture. Some are passed down from generation to generation, others could be just developing. But whether your rituals are old or new, they’re a wonderful way to create lasting memories that are important to your well-being and mental health.

Traditions are often connected to family, beliefs, faith, culture and community — and it takes work to keep them alive. It also takes work to acknowledge and pivot when a tradition needs to change or end. The key is to allow your traditions to evolve and change along the way. This takes a little patience, a lot of respect, and probably some creative, out-of-the-box thinking.

  • Has there been a loss of someone significant who held the tradition together? This can be a painful time of change so give yourself time to reflect, remember and reimagine how you want the tradition to evolve in the future.
  • Did someone get married, have a baby, or move away? This can be a time of joy and happiness and also a time when traditions are tested as new families form traditions of their own. It is a normal part of family life, so give some space and allow room for growth and change.
  • Have you moved to a new area, or immigrated to a new country? Bringing your traditions with you to the new life you’re building can be a source of great comfort and pride. Sharing your heritage can also become a fun and meaningful cultural experience.
  • Are you dealing with grief and loss during the holidays? Losing a loved one can make holidays painful. Take care of yourself during this tender time by staying connected to loved ones and simplifying or adapting traditions while you’re grieving.

Ease Your Holiday Traditions

Holidays can be a time of celebration, joy, and increased stress. So, consider starting some new mental health care ritual. Your new approach may end up being passed on to the next generation.

  • Start a tradition of not overdoing it. Holidays tend to invite overspending, over committing and over consuming. This could be a time to start the tradition of savoring, slowing down and simplifying.
  • Find time for reflection. Reflecting is a good mental health habit and can help us appreciate what we have accomplished and learned through the year. It can also cultivate feelings of gratitude and positivity.
  • Make room for change. Talk to your loved ones to see if your traditions need to be refreshed to accommodate change, loss, or new preferences. It can be challenging to make these adjustments, but it will help to keep your traditions going strong.

If you find are feeling depressed, contact your health care provider for proper medical and mental health care.

Atlantic Behavioral Health Crisis Intervention Services - 24-hour Hotlines

Additional crisis intervention providers:

  • Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988
  • The Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQIA+ Youth: 1-866-488-7386
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Veterans Crisis Line: Dial 988 and Press 1
  • Dial 211: 211 provides callers with information about and referrals to social services for every day needs and in times of crisis
  • SAMHSA Treatment Locator
  • Mental Wellness