As the year comes to an end, I hope you can take some much needed time to take care of yourself, reflect, and spend time with loved ones. The holiday season is poised as a time full of joy, hopes, and gatherings. With increasing demands and expectations, it can also bring feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Particularly this year, with COVID-19, you may experience additional stress and anxiety with a change of plans and uncertainty. Here are some strategies to cope with Holiday stress:
- Stay Physically Distanced, Not Socially Apart
- With an increase of COVID-19 cases, we are encouraged to stay home and to only gather with our immediate household. While this may change our usual plans, make sure you still connect to family and friends outside of your household! Set up video and phone calls to check-in and continue traditions virtually.
- Acknowledge Your Feelings
- We may feel forced to present ourselves as happy during the season, though it’s important to be realistic with ourselves about how we are feeling. If someone close to you has recently died, or you can’t be with loved ones, it is normal to feel sadness, anger, or grief. Take time to express your feelings, cry, etc.
- Be Realistic
- The holidays do not have to be perfect or like last year! In fact, trying to live in a way that “should be” can be a major source of anxiety, stress, and depression. We can change and adapt traditions we’ve had in the past. Finding new ways to celebrate and come together, which may bring new memories.
- Plan Ahead
- Planning ahead may prevent last-minute scrambling and avoid accumulation of stress. Set time aside for shopping, baking, and connecting to others. Consider shopping online if possible.
- Set Boundaries, Say No
- Know yourself and your limits when it comes to gathering, connecting, and participating in traditions. Saying yes when you know you should say no can lead to feelings of resentment and overwhelmed. Friends, colleagues, and loved ones will understand if you can’t participate in all activities. Particularly with family this year, difficult conversations may occur over gathering and COVID-19. Make sure to take time to yourself as well.
- Physical Health
- Physical and mental health work hand in hand and can affect one another. In a season that has many delicious foods, know yourself and avoid overindulgence, as this can add to stress and guilt. Enjoy the food, though continue healthy habits (such as getting plenty of sleep, avoiding excessive alcohol and drug use, exercise, etc.). Avoid comments about weight and stay away from negative messages on social media.
- Take a mental health screening
- CDC: Celebrating Holidays and COVID-19
- Take a COVID-19 Test
- Know the Data: COVID-19 Cases
- Mayo Clinic: Stress, depression, and the holidays
- MHA Wisconsin: Holiday Depression & Stress
- NAMI: Managing Your Mental Health During the Holidays
Stay safe, healthy, and enjoy your holiday season. See you next year!