Emotional Health Strategies for the Holidays

Emotional Health Strategies for the Holidays

Coping with the Added Stress of COVID-19

The holiday season is often a mix of fun and stress, joy and sadness. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic will add new challenges to these months of cold weather and holiday celebrations.

Your Emotional Well-being
There are many things that might make this winter more emotionally draining. People may be coping with loneliness and depression from not seeing family and friends like they usually do. Or, they may be anxious about the health and well-being of loved ones. Many people also struggle with seasonal depression from the darker and colder days.

There are ways to cope with these difficult feelings that can help us feel healthier and more in control. Here are some suggestions:

  • Express your feelings. It is always ok to be vulnerable about our emotions. Acknowledging and expressing our feelings can create a sense of release and relief.
  • Stay connected. Even though we might not be able to see people like we used to, there are still ways to feel connected. Make a play to speak with loved ones often and try celebrating virtually. You can also check out online support groups in your community. But beware of using social media too much, as it can actually make you feel more isolated.
  • Maintain a healthy routine. Having healthy habits and sticking to them on a regular schedule can have a big impact on our emotional health. Try to exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, and get a good amount of sleep.
  • Therapeutic techniques. There is no shame in needing help with your mental health. If your usual strategies aren’t working for you, reach out to a doctor or mental health professional. You may also way to try starting a mindfulness or meditation practice, or using light therapy like a SAD lamp if you feel affected by the weather.

Coping with Family Stress
Because we are all handling the COVID-19 pandemic differently, families might experience more tension than usual this year. If you’re having a hard time navigating the holidays with your loved ones, here are some things to remember:

  • This year will be different – and that’s OK. We are all adjusting to a new normal. That means the way we connect and celebrate with our loved ones won’t feel the same as it did last year. Try to accept this change and embrace new traditions.
  • Set your boundaries. You might experience pressure from family or friends to gather in a way that makes you feel unsafe. Having boundaries is a healthy part of all relationships, so don’t be afraid to let people know you are uncomfortable with the COVID-19 risk.

It’s important that we all take care of ourselves and each other this year, and remember that this difficult time will pass. Try using the strategies above to cope with emotional stress and if you need more support, don’t be afraid to reach out to friends or professionals.

References:

Cleveland Clinic. Could the pandemic make your seasonal depression worse?
Healthline. SAD Lamps for Seasonal Affective Disorder and How to Use Them
Mayo Clinic. Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping

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