I remember back in 2020, as the year was about to end, I professed my belief in 2021 being a better year. Unfortunately, 2021 brought a lot more suffering in many ways. We saw and felt the effects of inequitable health disparities, social unrest, and increased mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. 2021 events really highlighted the need for increased access to mental health awareness and wellness-based resources, particularly for Latinx communities.
We who identify as Latinx tend to belong to collectivist societies. We honor family and community, value social interest, and feel empowered from belonging to our family and community. The pandemic, however, took much of that away from us. Family get-togethers, holiday feasts, church events, local social activities, and practically all of our in-person engagements were ended. With that, our ability to connect with our loved ones, peers, and community members were cut off too.
The loneliness from this type of unnatural isolation was overwhelming and unbearable. Being alone and restricted further added to the suffering so many have felt.
So here we are again. 2021 finally ended, and I again profess my belief that 2022 will, must, has to be better. We need to find ways to reconnect with our society. We need to see each other’s faces and smiles and feel each other’s warmth and compassion.
The winter season is still a lonely and anxiety-inducing time for many. When I work with clients struggling during this time of year, we often create a plan that includes finding ways to connect with other human beings. Belonging to, maintaining, and cultivating healthy relationships are, in fact, one of the best ways to heal wounds and improve mood.
I encourage everyone to add a volunteer and/or social activity over the winter season. Many organizations are looking for these services. Local places of worship, shelters, and other organizations are always looking for volunteers (https://www.chicagocares.org/s/find-an-opportunity). In addition, in-person and virtual opportunities are all over Chicago and the surrounding suburbs (https://www.handsonsuburbanchicago.org/virtual).
When we connect with others and support our loved ones and community, we will start to remember that better days are coming. 2022 can be better with the choices we make. I look forward to 2022 with all of you as we support each other to heal collectively.
Pamela Fullerton is a bilingual and bicultural Latina Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor.
She runs Advocacy & Education Consulting, a professional counseling and consulting organization dedicated to ensuring social justice and advocacy through equitable access to mental health and educational-based services and supports.
Pamela specializes in trauma, immigration and acculturation, BIPOC experiences, career counseling, and life transitions.
Publisher’s Note: Healing into 2022 was first published in Reflejos.
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