The holidays are quickly approaching and with them come the inevitable hustle and bustle of shopping for presents, putting up decorations and making plans to visit loved ones. However, with the world still desperately trying to overcome the coronavirus pandemic, we're all left wondering what kind of festive family holiday we'll be allowed to enjoy this year. Pair this with the worry and pandemic stress the world has had to endure these last few months and it's understandable that many people won't be feeling too jolly when the time comes to celebrate.
Here are some things you can do during the holiday season to hold on to some cheer and help calm coronavirus fears.
Stay informed, but limit your exposure to the news.
It's crucial to stay up to date on COVID-19 public health updates and regulations in your community to keep yourself and your family healthy, but obsessively consuming the news and social media will only heighten anxiety.
- Consider setting a time limit in which you can watch the news or scroll social media and then turn it off (i.e., only watch 20 minutes of the news at a specific time of day).
- Stick to credible sources for COVID-19 information, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and your community's public health officials.
- If media coverage is too triggering, consider asking a trusted family member or friend to share vital updates with you.
Focus on what you can plan for, not for what you can't.
It's natural to feel disappointed that you won't be able to celebrate the holiday season as usual. Moreover, you may feel even more stressed about your finances and job stability, but a little planning can help.
- Write down specific COVID-related issues you're worrying about. Then, brainstorm any possible solutions that could help you cope with each issue.
- While you can't control the outbreak in your community, you can focus on your own health methods, such as good hand hygiene and a regular disinfecting routine, to keep your household virus-free.
- While in-person gatherings are limited, you can schedule video chat dates and phone calls with family to keep in touch.
- When you do speak with loved ones, try not to let the pandemic dominate your interaction. Use the connection as a break from your fear and worry, and focus on the good things happening in each others' lives.
Take care of yourself so you can take care of others.
While it may seem hard to focus on anything other than what's going on in the world, implementing a solid self-care routine can help you manage pandemic stress and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
- Take it easy on yourself. You might feel alone, but many people are struggling with the exact same feelings.
- Eat well-balanced meals, get a good amount of sleep and stay active with exercises you enjoy.
- Try to get outside. Getting out in nature can have a rejuvenating effect on how you feel. Just remember to keep your distance from others and follow all of your community's restrictions.
- Make time for activities that bring you joy. Cracking open a good book or watching a comedy can help take your mind off your worries.
- Take up a new hobby or cultivate a relaxation practice, such as meditation.
- Avoid the urge to self-medicate with alcohol or other substances.
Do you need help?
Depression during the holidays is a reality for many people every year, but 2020 is going to hit differently. People have spent the majority of the last year isolating themselves from the people they care about, and the holidays will be a stark reminder that the world still isn't back to normal.
If you're in crisis, don't suffer in silence. Use the following resources to reach out and get the help you need.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233)
- Disaster Distress Helpline: 800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
To learn more about coping with anxiety and stress, whether during the pandemic or in your day-to-day life, explore the QuickSeries® library of health and wellness guides, including Dealing with Worry, Overcoming Anxiety and Suicide Prevention.
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