In addition to the typical holiday stressors, COVID-19 may have you feeling additional stress, anxiety and worry. You may worry about your health and the health of your loved ones. You may also have feelings of depression because your holiday plans make look difference during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We hope these practical tips may help you minimize the stress that comes with the 2020 holiday season.
Tips to prevent holiday stress and depression
- Acknowledge your feelings. If you lost a loved one or can’t be near family this year, it is normal to feel sadness and grief. Please do not force yourself to be happy just because it is the holiday season. It is ok to take time to cry or express your feelings. Normalize these emotions.
- Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out help from your community. Realize that you are not alone and you may have a loved one who might feel the same way, and was hoping to speak to someone too. Try reaching out with a text, a call or a video chat. If you have social media like Facebook or Instagram, it helps to engage with other accounts by commenting on their posts and stories.
- Be realistic. A normal Christmas in a pandemic? That is an improbable ask. We may not be able to fulfill the same traditions we have in the past. That is okay because it makes room for new traditions! This year, many have normalized video chatting through Zoom or Facetime. Although you may not see family or other relatives like previous years, you can still greet each other virtually!
- Set aside differences. At this moment, everyone is coping with the pandemic in their own way. Some are often working through private issues. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression too.
- Stick to a budget. Plan ahead and make a holiday budget. Truthfully, thoughtful and intentional gifts will bring more happiness than an avalanche of expensive gifts. Try donating to a charity in someone’s name, homemade gifts, or a secret santa.
- Learn to say no. Saying “yes” when you want to say “no” may leave you more stressed, tired and resentful. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup. Your loved ones will understand if you can't participate in every activity.
- Continue your healthy habits. A healthy diet, alongside some holiday treats, will help you overall health this season.
- Have a healthy snack before holiday meals so that you don't go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
- Eat consistently and do not skip meals.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Try to move your body every day
- Avoid overindulgence in tobacco, alcohol and drug use.
- Limit your time on social media
- Take a breather. While you are caring for others, do not forget to take care of yourself too. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Take a quick nap, listen to your favorite music or indulge in your hobby.
- Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious. If these feelings affect your daily routine, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
When stress is at its peak, it's hard to stop and regroup. Use these tips to prevent stress and depression, especially if the holidays have been difficult for you in the past.