The holidays are meant to be a time of joy, togetherness, and celebration, but for many people it also causes anxiety, stress, and depression during a “normal” year. Adding the COVID-19 pandemic to our holiday season this year can bring a new layer of worries or fears. This year, there is added concern as we think about keeping ourselves and loved ones safe, while also finding some enjoyment and minimizing isolation.
It helps to have a plan for managing stressful situations rather than waiting and responding after something happens. It is important to be realistic and prepared for this year to look a little, or a lot, different than past years. Here are some tips for managing your well-being during this holiday season.
Take inventory of how you are doing. Be honest with yourself about how you are feeling and don’t try to pretend you are OK if you aren’t, but there is nothing wrong with having negative feelings. So be real with yourself and embrace your needs.
Decide what is important for you this year. Things might be different but that doesn’t necessarily have to mean it can’t be an enjoyable holiday season. Talk with loved ones about your traditions- what feels important to hold on to? What feels comfortable to change? Be creative and find new ways to make the holidays special this year.
Connect with others. Reach out for help, support, and be social in a way that feels safe for you during this time. This could be chat with a friend or family member to text, phone calls, or one of many video call options. If your personal network isn’t the most supportive, consider looking programs offered through community groups, religious organizations, or other organizations in your area.
Find some way to give back. Often when we are feeling bad, it can help to do something kind for others. Volunteer for a cause close to your heart, do something nice for another person, get involved with social justice efforts, or consider becoming a PEARL with For Papa’s Sake Home Care to help someone in need.
Be patient with yourself and others. Try to remember that this year has been hard for everyone-maybe for different reasons or in different ways- but we are all finding challenges amidst the world we find ourselves in. People are imperfect and don’t always say or do what we want them to. Don’t push yourself or others to be in uncomfortable situations or feel obligated to participate if you aren’t up for it. It’s OK to say no. Be understanding and compassionate with each other, but more importantly yourself.
Take care of yourself. Don’t let go of healthy habits just because it is the holiday season. Make sure to get enough rest, stay active, eat healthy meals, and do things to keep your stress level at a manageable level. Some great stress relief activities are listening to music, reading, meditation, go for a walk, or just close your eyes and breathe for a few minutes alone in a quiet space for a few minutes.
Ask for help if you need. If you find yourself experiencing problems like feeling depressed, changes in sleep or appetite, loss of interest in things you usually enjoy, getting irritable or angry easily, or other changes from your norm, consider seeking professional help. If these changes are present more often than not for an extended period of time, speak with your doctor or a mental health professional before things get worse.