Holidays can be a joyful season, but as per the study by NAMI, it is not the case for 64% of people with mental illness. For individuals coping with stress and other mental health challenges, the holiday season might bring loneliness, anxiety, or depression to them, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. In this article, know how to cope with stress during the holiday season in a pandemic.
Days get shorter as the holiday season approaches, making yourself lacking the motivation to unwind. Although it is safer to stay inside due to the pandemic, do not spend all your free time under a blanket as it may only cause overthinking that worsen stress and anxiety. Here are some fun activities that you can do during the colder and darker months:
- Seize the snow days by getting outside with your family to do winter activities (sledding, building a snowman, ice skating) around your home premise.
- Have a weekly movie or gaming night with your friends.
- Decorate and personalize your masks.
- Nourish your pantry skills and make something new in the kitchen
- A dance party inside your home can do.
- Do not neglect your diet and the necessary vitamins and minerals to boost your energy levels.
Making Safe Alternative Plans
No matter how itchy you are to go out and meet your friends and relative for unwinding, always make safe alternative plans. As COVID-19 continues to surge and pose severe risks everywhere, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have released a list of guidelines, which are as follows:
- Do not attend gatherings of more than three households, including hosts and guests.
- Do not gather in enclosed areas.
- Do not attend gatherings if you feel sick or are in a high-risk group (20 years old below and 65 years old above).
- Practice social distancing and hand hygiene at events.
- Wear a face shield and keep your mask in a safe area when eating or drinking.
- Keep gatherings for two hours or less.
Responding to Being Overwhelmed
At times of stress and being overwhelmed by hectic life, you must slow down and acknowledge what you feel. Walk away from what you are doing – even for a minute or two – to reflect on:
- Why you feel stressed;
- Is that stressful matter even worth getting upset over; and
- What can you do about it?
If you can address the cause of stress at that moment, then deal with it. If not, write down what you need to prioritize first. Here are some tips for you to keep your emotions balanced while dealing with the pandemic stress and holiday seasons.
When feeling burned out, get enough sleep, eat nutritious meals, and stay active by doing indoor exercises to uplift your mood.
Too much imposes danger, so always do things in moderation, may it be in foods or workloads. Short-term relieves like unhealthy foods and alcohol can worsen your mental health.
With your favorite playlist, podcast, or audiobooks, clean out your working area while listening to your favorite stuff to clear your mind.
Make some time to sit down and plan out realistic goals you would like to achieve in the upcoming year to motivate yourself.
Engaging with other people does not require personal meet-up, thanks to modern technologies. Watch some cooking videos or take online courses to kick off the hobby you want to improve productivity.
Holidays and winter months can amplify loneliness, so check out your loved ones through phone, chats, or video calls. They might instill comfort and advice to you during this stressful pandemic.
Give Kids a Voice
Children will get upset about canceled trips, but you must also check out their mental health too. You must validate their feelings by letting them speak and hearing them out. Then, model a coping mechanism with that disappointment positively and talk to them about what you can do to make them feel better.
Although we have all had a tough year, we can always figure out new ways of living. Stop beating yourself up over things that you cannot control. Don’t wait for your condition to get out of control, and seek mental health advice from professionals.
Caroline Miller is the editorial director of the Child Mind Institute. (2020, December 03). Holidays During the Pandemic. Retrieved December 19, 2020, from https://childmind.org/article/holiday-during-the-pandemic/
COVID-19: Holiday Celebrations. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html
How to Cope with Holiday & COVID-19 Stress. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2020, from https://iuhealth.org/thrive/how-to-cope-with-holiday-and-covid-19-stress
Maintaining Mental Health During the Holiday Season (and a Pandemic). (2020, December 08). Retrieved December 19, 2020, from https://namica.org/blog/handling-stress-during-the-holiday-season/
Press Releases. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2020, from https://www.nami.org/Press-Media/Press-Releases/2014/Mental-health-and-the-holiday-blues
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