Submitted by jessica.kellogg on
Although Halloween is famous for being spooky, it’s not the only holiday that can leave us unsettled. Holidays, and all the pressures and demands they bring, can leave us disappointed and sometimes depressed. And as we know, managing day to day life during the COVID-19 pandemic is difficult, even without the added stress of holidays.
So it’s a great time to start thinking about the weeks and months ahead and how we can prepare ourselves for the upcoming holiday season.
Let’s face it. Parties, family togetherness, shopping, cleaning, cooking and preparations can leave us exhausted and unhappy. Trying to create, or wishing we had, a picture perfect holiday season, leads many people to experience depression. The financial strain that comes with extra expenses can also lead to feelings of despair.
So keep these following tips in mind as we seek new ways to enjoy this special time, while managing the restrictions of the coronavirus crisis.
The best time to prevent stress and depression, is before it happens. Are you someone who usually finds the holiday season difficult? Then prepare yourself ahead of time for the challenges ahead.
Acknowledge Where You are At Right Now
This year it will be harder than ever to be with loved ones. That’s okay, and it’s okay to feel sad about it. Acknowledge that those feelings are normal, along with grief, If someone close to you has recently died or is ill.
Don’t Try to Be Happy if You’re Not
Experts believe a lot of the stress caused by the holiday season comes from people expecting to feel happier than they are. This is a difficult time for all of us; so it’s okay to feel sad. Don’t force yourself to be happy just cause it’s “that time of year.”
Reach Out if You Need Help
If you feel lonely or alone, look for people and events that can provide companionship. Virtual religious events, social events, family, friends and colleagues, can all help lift your spirits.
Reach Out to Those in Need
Many people have found that helping others has helped them cope with the stress of the pandemic. Volunteering your time could help someone feel better during the holidays and provide you with a sense of purpose, help you make new friends and give the holidays a different sense of meaning.
If people can’t be together, share photos and videos or get on a Zoom call. If you can’t gather to exchange gifts, consider skipping gift-giving this year and just share stories or memories. Or create new traditions, such as donating items to those in need. Be creative!
Get lots of sleep, get regular exercise and eat fresh foods. Healthy habits make us feel better, especially during times of stress.
Take a Break
Taking a walk or listening to music or just sitting quietly for 15 minutes, can really lower your stress level. Taking care of ourselves means we can care for others.
Seek Professional Help if You Need It
There is no shame in asking for help. If you are ongoingly sad or anxious, or unable to sleep or feel hopeless and unable to do the things you normally do, reach out to a mental health professional or your doctor and share your concerns.
Keep Practicing COVID-19 Measures
And most important of all, keep being safe. Wear a mask! Wash your hands often. Stay six feet apart.
We are still in the middle of the pandemic.
So even though you may want to let your guard down during the holidays, don’t.
Give the best gift of all this holiday season: the gift of being careful, cautious and considerate of your health and the health of others.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.
For more mental health resources, see the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline Database (https://www.verywellmind.com/national-helpline-database-4799696#national-suicide-prevention-lifeline) or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (operated 24/7), for information and referrals if you or a loved one are facing mental health and/or substance use issues.
Remember: We are in this together and we will get through this together too.