The holiday season is upon us, and it is usually a time where people are happy and joyous, reuniting with family and friends during this special time. This is not the case as the holiday season can be a dreaded time for some people and create an atmosphere of loneliness and bring about painful reflections.
Though this time of the year is generally thought of as a time for love, it can bring up unwanted emotions and additional stress in one’s life. You may notice old patterns emerging, stress and anxiety levels rising, and your ability to cope becoming difficult. This holiday season, in particular, will be a difficult one as we have all been affected by the pandemic in some way.
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We have lost loved ones, we have lost friends, and our lives have changed drastically to adjust to the challenges this pandemic has brought about. Our ‘normal’ way of life is no longer exists, and we have had to readjust and reframe our way of living and thinking.
I am not that excited as I usually am during the holiday season because, in addition to the pandemic, my father suffered a massive stroke and has not been home in 10 months. He lost his speech; he is on a ventilator and currently bedridden. He is in rehab now, but in New York, visits are not allowed in rehab facilities, so it has been difficult not to see him and touch him.
Now that the holiday is here, it is even more painful not to spend time with my dad and hear his voice. For the most part, I have been managing well. Some days are better than some, but when people ask me about my plans for the holidays, it touches a sore spot for me now. I am trying to stay in a positive frame of mind because my dad is still here, and I have so much to be grateful for. I like to call it mini victories leading up to a big victory.
Is it the holiday blues?
As mentioned before, the holiday season can bring about many emotions, and these emotions may be more intense this year as we all try to cope with this pandemic. These unwanted emotions are usually associated with the term ‘holiday blues,’ and there are signs that you can look out for that may indicate that you are having difficulty coping during this time:
- Difficulty concentrating/focusing
- Feelings of loneliness
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Feelings of fatigue and exhaustion
- Brain fog
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Loss of interest in activities
- Feelings of sadness or despair
Tips for coping during the holiday season
When stress and your emotions are at an all-time high, you may feel as though you are spiraling and losing control. Sometimes it may be hard to take a moment to pause and refocus your mind, body, and soul. Here are some tips to help you manage during this holiday season:
Be kind to yourself
As humans, we tend to be too hard on ourselves by thinking we are not good enough or not allowed to feel. Take time to take special care of yourself during this time. Taking time to do things that boost your self-esteem will help put you in a better mood.
Don’t ignore your feelings
Most of the time, we do not like to embrace our feelings, especially those unwanted feelings. But I am here to tell you to acknowledge and embrace those feelings. You may have lost someone this year, have a loved one who is sick, or not be able to be with family this year, and that is painful! Understand that it is normal to feel sadness or grief. IT IS OKAY to cry, to be sad, to feel broken. Allow yourself to feel these feelings. Do not force yourself to be happy just because it is the holiday season.
Reach out and stay connected
During this time, you may want to keep to yourself and not be bothered by anyone. This is how I feel sometimes, but staying in a state of isolation will not be suitable for your mental health. If you feel lonely or start to feel yourself socially withdrawing from your friends or family, reach out to those you trust and connect with them. Also, seek out communities or online support communities that offer support and companionship.
Be realistic and flexible
This holiday season will be different, and it is something we have to come to terms with. The sooner we do this, the better it will be for us, and it will help prevent us from becoming disappointed and being in a rut for the rest of the holiday.
In addition to being realistic, try to be flexible as well. The holidays don’t have to be perfect, and you do not need to try and outdo the previous year. As family and friends change and grow, traditions will change as well, and that’s okay. This year, regular holiday traditions may be different for many, but try to see the positive in all of it.
Don’t’ abandon your mental health
Don’t let the holidays take a toll on your mental health! Health is wealth but remember that your mental health is also wealth. Engage in the following more around this time:
- Self-care – Try out some of these (click on each image)
- Try to maintain a healthy eating habit.
- Try to keep a regular sleep and wake routine and get plenty of sleep. Are you having difficulty getting comfy in bed? Maybe it is time for a new and comforting mattress (click on image).
- Engage in deep breathing and grounding exercises
- Exercise. Give yoga a try, you just might like it (click on images).
- Take time to disconnect from social media platforms to detox your mind. Muse is pretty good for helping you to relax, have sharper focus, and even better sleep (click on image).
- Don’t beat yourself up and throw the guilt out the window.
- Focus on the present by centering yourself
Take a moment to pause
For some strange reason, it always seems that we are always on the go during the holiday season. There is so much to get down that we often forget to slow down and take a breather. Remember to make time for yourself because it is an important tool for protecting your energy and maintaining your boundaries with others. Find an activity you enjoy doing do it. Spend time being alone with no distractions so that you can reboot your battery.
Take time out to pause and think about all the things you are grateful for this year. Sometimes it may be hard to see the blessings that we receive on a daily because life can keep us busy. But take time out to reflect on what you have.
Seek professional help
Despite your best efforts, you may still find it difficult to shake the feelings of sadness, anxiety, loneliness, irritability, and so on. If you find that these feelings are lasting for a while, and it is starting to interfere with your daily activities, then it may be time to talk to a mental health professional.