Holidays are typically joyful – full of life, lights and celebrations with those we love. But behind the glitter and gifts, many people tend to experience stress, anxiety and depression during this time of year. Fear and anxiety that surrounds the COVID-19 outbreak is only adding to mental health conditions, ultimately leading to higher than normal stress levels.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mental health condition, typically prevalent in the fall and winter months. SAD can trigger fatigue, negative thoughts and extreme sadness – mental health problems that don’t go away just because the holidays are upon us. Many might feel pressure to remain optimistic and wear a smile just to get through the holiday season, but it is normal to experience different emotions given the current dynamic of holiday gatherings due to COVID-19 and other social pressures. Here are some helpful tips to keep holiday stress at bay during the coronavirus pandemic.
Keep Your Habits Healthy
It is essential to take care of yourself and your mental and physical health. Don’t allow the typical obligations of the yuletide to disrupt your life, simply work to incorporate them into your routine.
- Stick to a schedule or routine
- Get adequate sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Eat healthy, balanced meals
Stick to Small Adjustments
Holidays can seem overwhelming. Making small adjustments can help to manage your stress.
- Unplug from social media
- Set a budget for gifts and groceries
- Allow yourself to say “No”
If you plan to celebrate the holiday, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has provided a list of recommendations to keep yourself and others safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Gather outside if possible
- Limit the time spent together
- Limit the number of guests (best to remain with immediate household members)
- Practice social distancing
- Avoid in-person celebrations
The continued increase in cases across the country provides all the more reason to follow these guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Reach Out for Help
This year’s celebrations likely won’t look the same as last year. In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, traditions will need to change. Keep an open mind to creating new traditions during these unusual times.
If you need help navigating feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, reach out to family, a friend or a mental health provider. For those who notice concerning behaviors in your loved ones, let them know you are there for them and suggest they speak with a healthcare professional. The holidays may look different this year, but we still have so much to be thankful for.
Thank you to the Centers for Disease Control for the information in this article. Information provided by Sarah Bradley, Marketing Specialist, Madison County Health Care System, (515) 462-2373, www.madisonhealth.com