4 Tips for Managing Mental Health This Holiday Season
The holiday season can be a stressful or depressing time of year for many people, but especially amid a worsening pandemic. While people typically attend large parties and travel to see friends & family, that may not be possible due to COVID-19. Many people have lost their jobs and may be dealing with financial stress, while others may be struggling with the loss of or inability to see loved ones. Others may be essential workers and can’t take time off like usual. Change, in any case, can be extremely difficult, especially for those who have mental health conditions, however, that doesn’t mean this holiday season has to be a total disaster. Here are a few ways to cope:
- Mentally prepare yourself for the holidays – No matter your plans, this year will likely look a little different so it’s important to prepare for any emotions that might arise because of that. 2020 has been a devastating year for many people, so grief, anger, disappointment are all valid feelings. If you’re missing a loved one, find a way to honor them during your celebrations. If you’ve lost a job, take a moment to reflect on the challenges that came with it. Even if you’re just mourning your sense of normalcy, it’s okay to feel sad.
- Plan ahead and make the most of it – In addition to mentally preparing, you should also set physical boundaries this holiday season. If you plan on visiting loved ones, set boundaries in advance. Decide what precautions will be taken, if any, and make sure everyone attending agrees. If you aren’t visiting anyone, plan fun activities to do to celebrate with your household. The winter months often amplify loneliness, so it’s important to keep your family safe while still staying connected as best as possible. Maybe this is through zoom, maybe this is sticking to outside activities- whatever works best for your household. Schedule time throughout the season for baking, connecting with friends, shopping, etc., so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute to accomplish these plans. Finally, set a budget. This can help mitigate financial stress and avoid overindulging in material goods.
- Take time for self-care – While this year has brought a lot of loss, there are still things to be thankful for. After acknowledging your losses, make a conscious effort to identify what you’re grateful for this holiday season. Practicing gratitude can help you avoid dwelling on those feelings of despair. Another way to practice self-care is to take care of your body. Incorporate physical activity as often as possible or try meditation or yoga. Avoid excessive drug or alcohol use and try to eat balanced meals so you don’t overindulge in treats. Be mindful of how much news you’re consuming and aim to get enough sleep each night. Trying to stick to a routine will help you avoid further feelings of stress or guilt later.
- Ask for help – If you’re constantly feeling down, unable to concentrate, or go through your typical daily activities, it may be time to seek professional help. Talk to your doctor or reach out to a mental health professional. Talk with your coworkers if your workload becomes too much. This holiday season may feel especially overwhelming, but you don’t have to face these feelings alone.
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