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Dec 08

Happy Holidays?

Posted on December 8, 2020 at 1:07 PM by Caryn Nielsen

AdobeStock_394371494 - dog knocking down treeBut is it for everyone? The holiday season often brings unwelcome guests - stress and depression. And ‘Home for the Holidays’ doesn’t have the same ring to it when we’ve been home with one another for nine months. So what can we do to cope? With some practical tips, you can minimize those unwanted guests.

First, recognize that this is a unique holiday season and choose to adapt. Even though your holiday plans may look different this year, you can find ways to celebrate. Concentrate on those things that are the most meaningful to you, rather than those you feel obligated to do, and recreate a version of them. For example, in place of a big family meal, drop off special foods on a family member’s doorstep. Instead of gathering to carol in Grandma’s living room, join family members and friends in caroling over a video call. You may even start a new, loved tradition.

Second, acknowledge your feelings and how difficult this has been. Ignoring emotions is not the same at controlling them. Reach out for support and companionship. Get in touch with positive, supportive people, even if not in person. Seek help from a mental health counselor if you need it. Also, notice that everyone is struggling in some way and realize that misery doesn’t love company, it loves understanding. Seek out and offer empathetic and compassionate support for friends, family and others in similar situations. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) notes that this promotes understanding and coping for the person giving and receiving support. As a Japanese proverb states, ‘One kind word can warm three winter months.’

Lastly, don’t neglect your physical health. According to MentalHealth.org, poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health problems. Similarly, poor mental health can negatively impact physical health. The holidays can lead to disrupted routines. Make time for regular exercise to improve your mood, increase self-confidence and lower symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. It will also help improve sleep which can be disrupted by stress. According to NAMI, even five minutes of exercise has stress-relieving properties.

Remember when others are saying, ‘Ho Ho Ho,’ it’s ok for you to say, ‘No No No.’ Don’t let the changes to this holiday season overwhelm you. Take steps to ward off stress and depression, and to care for yourself and others.

Wishing you peace and comfort this holiday season.

For additional mental health support, please utilize the following resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

IHC Emotional Health Relief Hotline: 1-833-442-2211

Dial 211 for mental health resources

Download the SafeUT App: Provides real-time crisis intervention to youth via call and text