What to do with 2020 Holiday Blues
The year 2020 has been... different. The coronavirus pandemic has made virtually connecting with the people you love or work with a must to try to stay connected. But, as we all know, unless any our a character in Ready Player One, the online world can't replace our physical one. For those who live far away from relatives and friends, solely seeing them through a screen can be difficult. However this year, many of us are experiencing that same difficulty with family who live only 10 minutes away! The holiday season we are in the midst of has only amplified the feeling of isolation and longing for connection. So, for the who are feeling a little down and maybe a little lonely while quarantined this holiday season, we wanted to share some advice shared by Hunker after they had reached out to some Mental Health experts.
"Though feeling sad is perfectly normal and valid, we hope this expert guidance can offer you solace."
- Anna Gragert, Hunker
1. Stick with family traditions.
Gragert writes: "Sticking with some of your family traditions can be an important way to connect," Brooklyn-based psychotherapist Nikita Banks, author of Finding Happy, tells Hunker. "Taste and smell are very important to activating old sensory memories that can create a powerful connection, so stimulate your senses."
Seems difficult when you're quarantined, right? Maybe, but there are ways to still achieve this powerful connection: send the recipe and ingredients of a family recipe to a relative, or have ask a relative to send it to you if you don't have it. Now you can even go a step further and cook the recipe with them over Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype! And bam, magic family feast to arouse your senses while still sharing the experience, conversation, and laughs. You can use video chat to be online with family and celebrate traditions together or, now a days, friends and families have turned to virtual games that are available to play while video chatting! Banks added that this type of planning and routine can calm your holiday anxieties.
2. Old traditions are routine and wonderful, but starting your own traditions can be a lot of fun!
We've mention in our past post, "6 Healthy Holiday Traditions to try This Year", that each year you and your family continue to practice old traditions, but this year you may not have those standing traditions with your family or perhaps just aren't able to connect. If this is the case, then now is the time to consider making new holiday happenings into new traditions. This year, it is particularly important to consider traditions to help keep you on track for a healthier lifestyle and to make new memories!
3. Limit social media use.
This one is tough. For many of us, checking our social media accounts is a habit, and even if you can honestly say to yourself that it's not, our curiosity runs wild and we want to know what other people are up to. The fact is, that social media encourages us to start comparing ourselves to other peoples looks, lives, adventures, decor, and the list goes on. This is so much so that it has been a huge contributor to depression and people feeling unsatisfied with themselves and/or their life. It is important to remember that what people share on social media is often highlighting the happy and positive moments in their life. Try to be aware of the social media content you're consuming and how it affects you.
4. Be open with loved ones about how you feel.
In 2020 the winter holidays are not going to be the "greatest time of the year" for all of us. But don't silence yourself to still try to live up to that "normal" because this year has been everything but! Gragert quotes Michigan-base therapist, Allante Burnell"Begin to have discussions with loved ones about how to be emotionally and physically supportive of each other over the holiday season, based on realistic personal needs...Do not be afraid to set emotionally healthy boundaries, establish guilt-free quarantine parameters, and learn how to enjoy personal time without external influence." This year, try to take the time to figure out which holiday values and traditions are actually right for you and your mental health.
5. Find ways to give back.
Mayo Clinic states that research has been shown that volunteering can decrease the risk of depression, reduce depression, reduce stress, and provide a sense of purpose. It would be easy to brush this off due to safety during the pandemic, however, there are still safe ways to volunteer and give back. Many volunteer organizations and opportunities will have COVID-19 statement or protocols listed. The app Nextdoor is a great way to find local volunteer opportunities or events in your area. If you're having no luck finding an organized group, doing simple nice things for people through out the day could help fill your generosity meter.
6. Number 4 & 5 bring us to self-care.
In addition to evaluating which holiday values and traditions are actually right for you and your mental health, and using giving back as a way to fight depression and stress (and also give back to your community!), it is important to check in with yourself. Checking in with yourself gives you the opportunity to address your specific needs which is always important, but is especially important when you're feeling isolated. Gragert quotes psychotherapist, Alyssa L. McCall, who tells Hunker, "Self-care is necessary, especially during this pandemic, and to be clear, not the cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all definition of self-care, but self-care that is aligned with what YOU need and what helps YOU to feel recharged mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually."
This holiday season is the perfect time for you to try new things and find new ways to address your personal needs. Find what works for you, and who knows, maybe you'll come up with a New Year's resolution for yourself!
*** If you need additional support, the National Alliance on Mental Health Help Line can be reached Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. PST, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email@example.com. If you require crisis support, you can text NAMI to 741-741 at any time. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24/7 at 800-273-TALK (8255).***