Navigating the Holidays during the Pandemic

The pandemic and the holidays each on their own bring about thoughts associated with anxiety and depression; but now we are bringing these two things together and many are feeling extremely overwhelmed. These feelings are felt by most but can be managed if we gain an understanding of these feelings and how they in conjunction exacerbate our everyday feelings.

The Pandemic

The pandemic has been wreaking havoc with many people’s mental health since as early as March. We have seen the numbers of COVID cases rise, fall, and rise again. There have been many thoughts of how to manage the pandemic and keep the numbers as low as possible. It appears that a clear understanding of when this will all end is not possible at this time. Most fear that they will lose loved ones, many worry about their finances, and others are just struggling with the thoughts of how much longer they will need to love in a nearly isolated state. This has led to an increase in mental health symptomology and overall feelings of crisis, in many cases.

The Holidays

The holidays are a source of joy for some as well as anxiety and depression for others. Most of us can remember a time when we were surrounded by family during the holidays and how we felt a sense of belonging. That memory is such a positive for some but can be downright painful for others who face the holidays alone. The holidays can also be riddled with feelings of anxiousness due to the hustle and bustle as well as the financial burdens that are often related to the season.

The Pandemic and Holidays Combined

Anxiety and depression has been heightened this holiday season as people who generally spend the holidays alone are now worried about COVID 19, finances, and the general economy of the U.S. People who generally spend their holidays with their families are now also feeling that increased levels of anxiety and depression as they not only feel that impact of COVID 19 but are now also being called upon to diminish if not completely stay away from their families due to concerns for spreading COVID 19. When thinking about the increased anxiety and depression this holiday season, the necessity for finding ways to decrease feelings of isolation and increase the level of joy felt needs to become a priority. By using some of the following steps it is possible to bring joy to yourself and others.

Recognize Your Feelings

Most people will feel an array of feelings throughout the day. Some notice feeling happy at certain times of the day, sad sometimes, and anxious other times. It is important to note if there is a pattern to these feelings or if perhaps there are circumstances that surround them. The reality is that we all have feelings and thoughts or circumstances that bring about those feelings. By recognizing your feelings and the thoughts or circumstances that surround them you can begin to better manage them and move toward more positive days.

Holiday Joy

Have you ever passed a house that was decorated and said wow that is beautiful, with a smile on your face? Well just imagine if we all decorated our homes not only for us to see but for others to see. First we would be helping to put ourselves in a more joyful mood but we would also be helping to assist others in improving their mood. When we are in a better mood our feelings are more joyous and this leads to a decrease in our feelings of anxiety and depression. So, let’s put joy back into our lives and the lives of others.

Remember to take time for yourself this holiday season. Exercise is a great way to manage anxiety and depression. Take that walk and look at all of the decorations and lights in the neighborhood. Remember that you can also read a good book or watch a television show. These are all activities that help you to put thoughts out of your mind for at least a short period of time.

Holidays alone, as will be had by many during this pandemic are difficult at best. We miss our loved ones and long for the hugs that we used to get on a regular basis or even just that once a year hug from a family member or friend who lives far away. While it has been recommended that we should not be in direct contact with one another that does not mean that we cannot be in contact with each other via the phone or through other electronic devices. Remember that you are truly not alone. We are all in this together. Right now it may be virtually but we will all come together again when it is safe to do so.