For many people the holiday season is one of the best times of the year, filled with joy and celebration. But for others, it can be a time of stress and sadness. It can be overwhelming to get everything accomplished in time, finding all the right presents, and making the season perfect for everyone. It can also be a time of sadness and loneliness for those who are not sharing the season with loved ones. Due to the pandemic, this year may bring new challenges with social distancing from family and friends. Here are some tips to help you overcome the stress and disappointment and find joy in the holiday season.
1. Set realistic expectations.
Even before the pandemic, the holiday season did not always go smoothly. This can be a stressful time of year for many people. Adjust your expectations for what this season will look like. Avoid focusing on what you are missing out on this year. That will only leave you with a lingering feeling of disappointment. Focus instead on what is possible right now and be proactive in doing those activities.
2. Deal with Loneliness.
Loneliness is an issue for many people during this time of year. With social distancing, this year looks like it will be even more difficult than usual. Make it a point to reach out to friends and family in safe ways. Whether it is over the phone, or zoom, or socially distanced, do not let yourself isolate. Reach out to other people that you know that could use some extra support this year.
3. Set a budget and stick to it.
Determine beforehand how much money you can spend on gifts, decorations, and food and do not go over your budget. Do not rely on material items to buy happiness. Overspending can lead to stress, financial insecurity, and debt. Get creative with gifts to help keep costs low. Homemade gifts or having a gift exchange can reduce the expense of the season. Also for the gifts that you do purchase, remember that small businesses have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and will benefit from your support during the holiday season.
4. Maintain healthy habits.
During stressful times, it is especially important to maintain the habits that support mental health. Get enough sleep every night and find time to fit rest into your schedule. Find fun ways to stay physically active. Use moderation when indulging in holiday treats and include nutritious food in your daily diet. Spend time outside in nature often. Bundle up in appropriate winter gear if it is cold outside. Not only is nature a great stress reliever and mood booster, but it will also help increase exposure to sunlight which many individuals lack in the winter.
5. Enjoy the season.
There are many simple joys of the season that we can still take part in. Take time to enjoy these activities this year whether it is Christmas music, cheesy movies, lights and decorations, or certain holiday foods. Ensure that there is time in your schedule for simple and fun holiday traditions.
6. Get professional help if you need it.
A study conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness showed that 64% of people with mental illness reported that the holidays make their mental health worse. If you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious, getting professional mental health support can help. Call Valeo Behavioral Health Care at 785-233-1730 to set up a mental health assessment.
Valeo Behavioral Health Care
400 SW Oakley
Topeka, KS 66606
24 Hour Crisis Line
National Suicide Prevention Life Line
Shawnee County Suicide Prevention Coalition
Family Service and Guidance Center (18 and under)
325 SW Frazier
Topeka, KS 66606
24 Hour Crisis Number
Healing after Loss to Suicide Group (HeALS)
Sandy Reams – Group Facilitator