How the pandemic is affecting the holidays
The normal holiday stressors are being exacerbated in 2020, thanks to feelings that have become all-too-familiar in the last eight months – heightened levels of fear, anxiety, disappointment, and grief. While some are grieving real tragedy, such as the loss of a loved one, many others are grieving lost traditions and a way of existence that feels like a distant memory. In addition, we’re all trying to cope with triggers unrelated to the holiday, such as virtual schooling, job losses, and political discourse.
The people, parties, and trips that many of us look the most forward to this time of year are now considered a public health risk. While a number of Americans have chosen to forego large family gatherings and crowded Black Friday shopping this season in order to protect their loved ones from possible exposure, the mental strain that comes from isolation and unmet expectations can have an adverse effect on our mental well-being.
The good news is, there are ways to combat feelings of sadness and feelings of isolation.
Free Zoom for Thanksgiving
This week, Zoom announced they would be lifting the 40-minute time limit for free account users from midnight ET on Nov. 26 through 6 a.m. ET on Nov. 27 so “your family gatherings don’t get cut short.” Utilize this bonus time to schedule meets with loved ones with who you can’t be with. Perhaps chat live while baking or prepping with older relatives and then kick back later on with friends for a virtual happy hour.
Dress up to feel better
There’s a lot of evidence that shows a strong correlation between how you dress and how you feel. Your overall attitude and mood can actually be affected by the clothes you are wearing. So, before you hop on that Zoom call with your loved ones, put on something fancy that makes you feel good.
Listen to music that makes you feel good
Experts know the power of music and how it can influence your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Be mindful to forego sad ballads that might magnify feelings of depression or loneliness. There are so many other psychological benefits to music, so opt for upbeat, feel-good tunes to keep you in the right state of mind.
Taking a walk to help anxiety and depression
Weather permitting, it’s always important to stay moving if you are prone to feelings of sadness and anxiety. Doctors recommend at least 30-minutes of light activity (think: a brisk walk) to keep your heart and mind healthy. Some doctors even believe that a certain level of daily exercise can be yield results that are the equivalent of taking an antidepressant. This holiday season, try to get your body moving to keep your mind at ease.
Practice gratitude to improve your mood
When we are feeling bad about the state of the world and unable to be with the people we love, it’s easy to forget to be grateful for the little things. As simple at it sounds, being intentional with your thoughts, and practicing sincere gratitude isn’t always foremost on our minds, but it should be because of the mental health benefits. From telling someone how much you appreciate their phone calls or texts, to writing down one thing every night that you are thankful for, practicing gratitude can make you feel more connected, loved and lead to a more positive outlook on the current situation.
If you have questions about feelings of depression and want to talk to a professional about ways to combat it, please contact Oasis: The Center for Mental Health today to get set up with an appointment with a provider.