As 2021 begins and already seems difficult, we are still faced with challenges and overwhelming stress in our world. To carry Catholic Charities’ Comfort & Joy through 2021, Villa Maria Community Resources Behavioral Health Clinic Director Suzanne Templeton, LCSW, shared some things you can do to keep connected to the people you love, and to feel joy, even after the “holiday buzz” has worn off. 


Take time to connect with someone important to you by calling them, videoing them, or talking to them socially distanced and masked. This positive distraction can turn your stressful day into a better day. The act of changing your focus to talk to a friend, colleague, or family member can distract your mind, giving you a positive experience. When you go back to work or the task at hand, you will feel refreshed and have a calmer focus.



Take time to go outside and walk. Even in the winter, the fresh air can be exhilarating. While walking you can do the Five Senses challenge. Look around and mindfully note five things that you see, four things that you hear, three things that you can touch, two things that you can smell, and one thing you can “taste” – like just opening your mouth and inhaling to “taste the air.” This is an incredible grounding technique, and can promote calm.


Turn on some music and sing or dance. This is a great technique to get the body moving, and create positive endorphins to help boost your mood!


Take time to play with your children, pets or friends. Turn off the television and computer, and just play and have fun!


Get a good book and read for 20-30 minutes. This is a way to again distract your mind and give you a “break” from the stressful world we are living in.


If you live with others, and are food-secure, get others involved in cooking dinner. And better yet, try to find time to eat meals together and take turns talking about what you are grateful for that day.


Whenever you get a chance, try to turn off technology and do something you love, and that feeds your soul.

These may seem like simple tips, but by practicing one or more every day you may feel more calm, happy and ready to face the challenges that lie ahead. The bottom line is that taking a break from computers, devices, social media and the news will help keep you balanced throughout the year, and hopefully allow you to feel a bit of joy!