It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is finally here. After a year that felt particularly long and draining, it’s time to celebrate! For many of us, the end-of-year festivities are just the pick-me-up we need. However, for others, the endless to-dos, comparison traps (how does she already have all of her presents wrapped?!), and socially-distanced, mapped-out stores are simply reminders that we never have enough to give - enough energy, enough money, enough Christmas cheer.
The Holiday Blues During a Pandemic
If you’re feeling more bah humbug than ho, ho, ho this holiday season, know that you’re not alone. The holiday blues can be experienced by anyone, and according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64 percent of people living with mental illness will suffer from them. Given the chaos and uncertainty of 2020, I have a feeling that number is much higher this year!
With COVID-19 cases surging in many areas and stricter stay-at-home measures looming, the holidays feel much different than ever before. Maybe you’re still accepting the fact that, due to long-distance and travel mandates, you won’t be spending this time of togetherness with the ones you love most. Or maybe, you do have plans to see your family, but the stress of traveling or welcoming out-of-town guests into your home is weighing on you.
Three Tips To Help You Stay Mentally Well During The Holidays
Whatever you’re feeling, it’s okay. Here are three tips to keep in mind as you navigate the ups and downs of the holiday season:
Stay grateful to stay positive: Never underestimate the power of a little gratitude. Sometimes, the simple act of telling yourself that I am enough and it’s all going to be okay can make all the difference. If you need more than a self-reminder, consider planning an outdoor catch-up date, or even a Zoom call, with a close friend. Leaning on each other is always helpful during tough times. Another idea: Start a gratitude journal. At the beginning or end of each day (whatever is most convenient for you), jot down a list of things you’re thankful for. It can include something as small as a hot cup of coffee or as big as the love of your partner or children. Taking a few extra minutes to focus on having a grateful heart can have a lasting impact on your mood.
Stick with your routine: One of the best things you can do for your mental health is stick to your routine. Try to practice self-care each day. Be mindful and intentional with your nourishment and movement routines. Even a 20-minute neighborhood walk to look at Christmas lights can clear your head and improve your attitude! If you constantly feel tired, try going to bed early or sleeping in when you can, but try to generally set a reliable bedtime and waking time for yourself; this small change can have a big effect on your sleep patterns. Also, don’t be afraid to say no! Make sure you’re only saying “yes” to those invitations that serve you and your wellbeing. No holiday party or Zoom get-together is worth your anxiety or stress!
Look into therapy: If you feel like the holidays are only exacerbating negative feelings that have been there all along, seeking professional help could be just what you need. A therapist can guide you as you dig deep and get to the root of your problems, and together, you can implement a plan to help you feel like your old self again. Read more about this topic in my blog post from last month, titled How Do I Know If I Need Therapy?
Sometimes, it’s hard to see the good in a year filled with so much stress and sadness — but it’s always good to try! For me, I’ve realized just how much can be accomplished virtually. Whether it’s during a FaceTime call with lifelong friends or a telehealth appointment with a client, I know that I’m forging connections and taking strides forward.
I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season!
Tell us in the comments below: How are you feeling this holiday season?
Reach out to Dr. Kelli Malkasian, PsyD, C.E.D.S. at Coral Reef Counseling, and schedule a free consultation or telehealth appointment today!