holiday stress

Dealing with Holiday Stress During COVID-19

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The holidays during this time of COVID-19 will look very different than in years past. Parties, holiday shopping and travel may not be possible due to restrictions like stay-at-home orders and business closures. The usual stress of the holiday season may be exacerbated this year due to fears over your health and that of your loved ones, mourning the loss of friends of family, economic strains and the inability of spending time with loved ones. 

To put it simply, this holiday season may be a test for everyone, and especially those who have been hit especially hard this year. “We are facing a national mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come,” states a press release from the American Psychological Association in October 2020. High levels of stress are linked to health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety and depression. 

If you are one of the millions of people feeling the strain of this unprecedented year, it’s critical that you take your stress seriously. Don’t chalk it up to “2020” and neglect your mental and physical health. While there is no quick fix to eliminate all of your stressors this holiday season, there are plenty of small actions you can take to reduce your stress and make the most out of the holidays in 2020. 

5 Ways to Cope with Holiday Stress During COVID-19

Identify your greatest stressors.

What are the biggest sources of tension for you right now? What emotions are you experiencing that are bringing you feelings of distress? Defining the source of a problem is the first step to understanding and overcoming it. Identify how you are feeling by talking it out with a friend, confiding in your journal or meditating. Once you can pinpoint your feelings, you can be better equipped to address them. 

Prioritize self-care.

Self-care is important any time of year, but during the holidays we tend to give more to others than to ourselves. With the holidays and a global pandemic happening at the same time, self-care can be the first thing out to window. Do not neglect yourself, even when you are feeling overwhelmed. Simple things like warm baths, solo walks or reading a good book can make a significant difference in the way you feel and handle the stresses of the season. 

Talk to someone. 

We could all use a little help these days. Sometimes, just “getting things off your chest” can be enough to relieve you of some stress. Find a trusted friend or family member who you can confide in, or work with a therapist. There are plenty of online therapy options that are affordable and can be done from the safety and comfort of your own home. 

Focus on the reason for the season.

While it may seem harder this year than in the past, this season is all about gratitude. Instead of the things you’ve lost, focus on the things you’ve gained this year. Maybe that means more time with your family, finally accomplishing that home improvement project, no more commute to work or something as simple as your health. There are still plenty of things you can be grateful for this year. Take some time to consider all of the great things in your life and you will be amazed at the lift it can give you, even when you’re feeling down. 

Make the most of it. 

It might be easier said than done, but make an effort to make the most out of the holidays this year. Sure, things may look different, holiday traditions may be lost and loved ones may be far away. However, take this is an opportunity to try out or create new traditions. Never made a gingerbread house before? Host a virtual gingerbread house party with friends and family. Get creative and involve your loved ones who might be feeling the loss of their holiday traditions, too. 

By setting an intention to make the most out of the holidays this year, you can take actions to reduce your stress and even find more joy. How have you avoided stress during the holidays and COVID-19? We’d love to hear your thoughts. 

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