Lady Gaga's Mom Says 'It's OK to Not Be OK' as She Shares Mental Health Tips for the Holidays
Lady Gaga's mother Cynthia Germanotta is an advocate for mental health awareness as the co-founder and president of the Born This Way Foundation. In this letter, she offers tips for putting well-being first and promoting kindness during the holiday season.
Let's be honest, it's been a rough year — for communities across the world, for you, for me, and for so many. Despite the fact that the holidays may feel different this year, I hope that we still find ways to celebrate the giving season through compassion by leaning into our bravery and resilience. We must rely on the things that keep us anchored to this world and encourage us to be kinder to ourselves and others.
There are so many ways we can bring this season of joy to others no matter what our definition of giving is. My daughter Stefani says, "Kindness is a free currency, and we all have it to give." Whether it's a gift wrapped in a big red bow or a simple gesture of kindness and selflessness to remind someone you’re thinking of them, there is no time like the present to show you care.
I invite you to check out my list of gift ideas that may be a little different than your typical holiday shopping list, but can go a long way in showing kindness, compassion and lifting spirits.
1. Digital wellness tools. Remember that it's OK to not be OK, and it's also OK to seek support. Give the gift of therapy or digital wellness care through tools like TalkSpace, BetterHelp, Open Counseling, or other affordable mental health care options to yourself or a loved one.
2. Appreciation notes. Sending a note of appreciation, gratitude, or encouragement can go a long way in showing someone you care. Thoughtful Human provides coupons/codes for therapy with your purchase of a set of cards.
3. Inspiring stories. Find, read, and share the inspirational stories found in Born This Way Foundation’s New York Times best-selling book, CHANNEL KINDNESS: Stories of Kindness and Community, which also includes a personal story from my daughter, Stefani.
4. The gift of support. Spending some time learning how to be there – in-person or virtually — for your loved ones can be a life-saving gift. I invite you to visit BeThere.org to learn the skills to recognize when someone is struggling and how to help them.
5. Gratitude journaling. Practicing gratitude is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and others. My girls and I have been writing gratitude journals since they were young and it brings me so much joy and comfort to reflect back on what I’ve been thankful for each day. You can use any notebook or the notes app on your smartphone to get started. If you can't access a notebook, find free templates for journals here.
6. Mindfulness. My daughters and I believe that self-care is an essential act of kindness. Give yourself (or a friend or colleague) a subscription to apps like Calm App, Headspace, Insight Timer, Liberate Meditation, and The Mindfulness App, which offer helpful tools, resources, and tips to practice mindfulness.
7. A gift for you from you. Create a list of things that make you feel better and try to do them every day. It's a great way to stay centered for the day and beyond. For example, I like to practice ballet every day as a way to focus my mind and body.
8. An important reminder. Share the #PleaseStayPledge, created by our friends at Find Your Anchor and Born This Way Foundation, with a loved one to remind them that they matter, they are not alone, and resources are available for support.
9. Inspirational apparel. Rock one of Born This Way Foundation’s signature Be Kind shirts or send one to a friend to help spread the message of kindness.
10. Resources for help. Find resources for support and evidence-based self-care tips on our website: bornthisway.foundation/get-help-now/
As my daughter says, "It's good to make sure that you reward yourself for every single thing that you do because you're brave every day just for taking a breath, but you're braver when you try a little harder." Try a little harder with me by taking time every day to show care for yourself and others.
I also understand that this holiday season is especially complicated and difficult. It's OK to not be OK. The experiences of sadness, gratitude, grief, joy, loneliness, and happiness are not mutually exclusive. Whether you give your time, treasure, or talents this holiday season, I hope you take comfort in all of the good that we are capable of and the power it has to change the world.
I'm wishing you all a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season!
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