By Erin Massey, LCSW
Every year the holidays come regardless if we’re ready for it or not. The holidays are full of family, traditions, get-togethers, cooking, gift giving, and the list goes on. Stress is generally a huge factor related to this, and for some individuals who already struggle with the holidays being difficult for them emotionally to begin with, adding a Pandemic to the mix can feel almost too overwhelming to cope with at times. This year the holidays look a lot different, making it so usual traditions will not be happening for most, and being away from family is a factor as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, the following are a few helpful reminders to get us through the holidays this year, no matter what it looks like!
1) Be realistic– Though the holidays look different this year, they don’t have to be perfect! Traditions always change regardless, as families change and grow. If relatives are unable to come to your house to celebrate the holidays, try different ways of connecting such as doing a video chat or sending emails and pictures.
2) Reach out– If you are feeling lonely or isolated, try looking into community or religious events that may be held virtually, or that may even offer an online support group.
3) Acknowledge your feelings– It’s okay to feel sad or grieve over not being able to be with family this year. Take time to express your feelings or cry, and don’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
4) Set aside differences– You may not always agree with family members and friends, but try to set aside a more appropriate time to discuss differences, as they are most likely also experiencing stress and depression due to the holidays this year also.
5) Don’t abandon healthy habits– Including regular daily exercise in your routine helps to reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms. Getting good sleep, avoiding excessive alcohol, tobacco and drug use, eating healthy meals, and even having a healthy snack before holiday meals so that you don’t over indulge is helpful also.
6) Take a breather– Be sure to engage in self- care! Taking even 20 minutes for yourself can help reduce stress greatly, and assist you in getting the things accomplished that you need to. Reading a book, listening to music, or even meditating can be some useful tools in helping you relax and take control of the holidays!