The Christmas season can be difficult for some of our youth, as the holidays do not always hold the best memories for them. Each year, we decorate the shelter to try and make the space festive and to try and make the holiday as cheerful as we can. Today, we have a youth staying in the Shelter who is struggling with high levels of anxiety. This youth has been working very hard on staying sober from drugs and has been making great progress with his recovery. He has been referred to see a psychiatrist for some mental health issues and he has been struggling about what this means to him. The staff suggested that he be in charge of decorating the common space with Christmas decorations today. The youth’s eyes lit up as soon as this option was presented to him. Right away, he jumped in and meticulously decorated every inch of the common space!
During his decorating, there were two other youth in the house. One of the youth is new to the Shelter and has been trying to get used to this new space with unfamiliar rules and faces. The other youth in the space was struggling with her depression. She had been secluding herself and was having trouble getting motivated as she wasn’t having much to do with the other residents. Both of the girls slowly got involved by helping the first youth decide where to hang things or how to set the decorations up. Eventually, they were all laughing and decorating together and even requested to play some music while they decorated. The staff being so glad that this group was connecting and relieving some stress said “absolutely”! Just a few moments later we heard the sweet, sweet sounds of heavy metal music ring though the space. Not exactly a Bing Crosby Christmas, but everyone was happy.
The space looks absolutely amazing! In the process of decorating the room, the youth who was struggling with anxiety was able to go off to his first appointment with a calmer mind. The ‘first timer’ started to feel comfortable with her co-residents and with the staff. The youth who struggled with depression was laughing with staff about her music choice and engaging in more conversation. Sometimes the simple tasks can provide great opportunity for connecting people, providing festive fun and relieving anxiety on a tough day.