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Managing Stress when Pandemic Fears Overwhelm the Holidays

It’s the holiday season, and normally this time of year is full of parties, school activities, and shopping. This year, however, holiday stress feels amplified by the threat of COVID-19 without all the fun traditions. Being aware of the effects of stress on your physical and mental wellness will be especially important this time of year. Below are 5 suggestions to help you cope and enjoy peace this holiday.

  • Remind yourself the reason for the season is not to be perfect, but to celebrate your values, faith, and family. This is our first pandemic Christmas in a very long time so don’t expect yourself to know how to handle the situation. Remind yourself of what’s important and let go of what isn’t. Focus more on the part of the holidays you want you and your children to remember. What matters most to others is you being present, hopeful, and grateful. Let go of duties or competitive tasks that exhaust you and actively celebrate with your family.

  • Change your self-talk from negative to positive. So much of our mood is dictated by what we tell ourselves. When you’re overwhelmed, take time to breathe instead of curse. Remind yourself of good things that happened to you today and focus on how you can connect and lighten someone else’s burdens. Being kind to someone restores their hope and encourages them that people are good.

  • Invest in your wellness and set healthy boundaries. If you have an underlying condition or family members that have health concerns, practice setting firm boundaries and saying no to holiday events. There is no shame in protecting your loved ones, and your main responsibility is to keep yourself and your family healthy.

  • Claim your joy by not reacting to other’s stress. You cannot change how others act with holiday stress, but you can practice responding with kindness. Understand that difficult people are suffering their own inner battles. Focus outward instead of taking things personally and consider volunteering your time; something as simple as baking Christmas cookies for an elderly neighbor can spark holiday joy and gratitude.

  • Acknowledge your feelings and reach out for professional help. If someone close to you has died or you can’t be with loved ones this holiday season, it’s normal to feel sad and grieve. It’s okay to cry and express your feelings; never force yourself to act happy just because it’s the holiday season. Take advantage of online support groups and crisis sites that offer emotional support. Talk to a friend or family member for support and guidance. If your sadness intensifies, seek a mental health provider.

This holiday season will be different, but different doesn’t mean joyless or hopeless. Look for the good in others. Practice being more patient and look forward to the incredible opportunities that will come with the New Year!


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