The holidays are hard for many people and if you are among them it’s important to remember you aren’t alone in your feelings this time of year. Overwhelming stress, seasonal expectations, and personal loss all do a deceptively good job of creeping in amidst the snow and lights. Taking steps to identify and acknowledge your feelings, before responding with a coping strategy that works for you, can give you the control to feel empowered.
Consider the following strategies to help cope with the loneliness and disappointment that comes with celebrating safely during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Manage your expectations. Remember that this year is going to look and feel different. Managing your expectations for yourself and others will help you stay positive. Give yourself and those around you some kindness and leniency. Everyone is trying to balance staying safe with feeling “normal” during a time of year that usually is spent together with loved ones.
- Set healthy boundaries. Being away from family and friends during the holidays can be tough. If you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious, take a step back. Practicing self-care can also help soothe feelings of anxiety or stress.
- Reach out to loved ones. It’s important to continue leveraging video, social media, text messaging, or phone calls to stay socially connected with loved ones. Remember to reach out to those who may be especially isolated in nursing homes or other facilities with visitor restrictions.
- Recognize your holiday stress triggers and relievers. Financial pressures and personal demands are two common triggers. Holiday stress may cause some people to fall into unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking, or eating too much. It’s important to be aware of those harmful stress relievers.
- Monitor your moods. Stay in tune with how you’re feeling, and keep a journal if that helps. Take care of yourself by paying attention to what makes you happy and incorporating those aspects into your daily life.
- Make time for your health. Your well-being includes both mental and physical health. Try to keep your normal sleep schedule, eat healthy foods, and stay physically active.
- Do what’s best for your household. It all comes down to doing what’s best for your health and the health of your loved ones. Keep in mind that making the difficult decision to be apart this year may mean you can spend many more years together.
Reach Out For Help
Share your feelings with trusted family or friends, they are in your life because they want to help and support you. If you are experiencing distress or have concerns about your mental well-being during this holiday season, please contact your mental health professional or use the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline by calling 800-662-HELP (4357).