The holiday season is normally an exciting time of year. 2020 is no exception. The pandemic however has created a different and unusual holiday experience than in year's past. Due to social distancing, distance learning, travel restrictions, and restrictions on large gatherings, the usual stress and anxiety which accompanies holiday activities is heightened this year. What to do if you are experiencing additional stress and anxiety due to Covid this holiday season? Here are a few helpful tips to help you manage and have a merry holiday season.
Reach Out. While physical distancing and travel restrictions prevent us from being in direct contact with friends and family there is still a way to stay in touch. Through platforms like Zoom, TikTok, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram it is possible to share pictures, engage in real time conversation, or share lighting the Menorah or decorating the Christmas Tree. Not skilled in the latest social media apps simply pick up the phone and call a friend or family. A simple call can brighten up your day.
Plan Ahead. Many businesses have modified their store space to create physical distancing. In addition store hour are reduced limiting your ability to shop as in the past. It's important to plan ahead so that you try and reduce the amount of last minute shopping or running around during the holiday. Take advantage of on-line retailers who will deliver to your door. Patronize local retailers who provide curb-side pick up or at home delivery. Now more than ever make that list, check it twice, and shop early to reduce anxiety and stress.
Not This Year. Large gatherings and parties are traditional holiday events. Due to the pandemic and CDC guidelines this year large events are on hold. For those of us who looked forward to the ugly sweater party or the secret santa gift exchange you may experience feelings of loss or isolation. Be realistic and understand that this too will pass, and holiday traditions will return next year. Hosting a virtual ugly sweater party or secret santa party on Zoom, or another platform may still make your spirits bright.
Stick to Healthy Habits. With less physical interaction and more isolation its easy to skip healthy habits like eating right, exercise and moderate alcohol consumption. Take advantage of sunshine hours to walk around your yard or neighborhood. A walk gets you off of your couch, elevates your heart rate and increases oxygen intake. Take 15 minutes to meditate without distractions, or while listening to calm music. Unable to get outside there are several 10-15 minute exercise videos posted on Youtube that you can follow along in the comfort of your own home.
Take Time For You. Holidays come with many demands. This year with so many parents working from home and assisting children with distance learning, its hard to find time during the day to calm your mind and relax. Find a sunny place in your home and for 10-15 minutes in each day linger, sit or stand, and soak up the sun. Take a soak in a warm bath, read a passage from a book, or just look out the window and try to spot the winter birds in your backyard. Finding time to calm your mind helps to improve mental health.
Any one of these simple tips or any combination of these tips may help to manage or reduce feelings of stress or anxiety that you may be experiencing during the holidays. In the event that you are feeling overwhelmed by stress or anxiety its important to seek out professional help. Licensed therapists are available to assist individuals experiencing elevated levels of stress or anxiety. Seek the help you need in order to enjoy the holidays.