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Managing Holiday Stress During the Pandemic

The holidays have always brought on mixed emotions among us. While it’s the happiest and most exciting time of the year, it’s also the most stressful because of all the planning, shopping for presents, getting together with friends and family, and cooking and cleaning. Getting ready for Christmas and New Year’s Eve is taxing to begin with, and even more so when you have to do it all during a pandemic.

It’s difficult to imagine what this year’s holiday season is going to be like with COVID-19, but we can expect that it might not even be possible for a lot of people to travel and be with their loved ones due to existing community restrictions. On top of worrying for your family’s health, you might also be anxious, stressed out, and sad about not being able to visit and spend time with your loved ones this year.

However, you don’t have to feel powerless from our current reality no matter how disheartening things get. With some of these practical tips, you can overcome holiday stress and the added anxiety of dealing with it all amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Don’t suppress your emotions

Ignoring negative emotions is what we humans are inclined to do during hard times, but refusing to acknowledge any feelings of sadness and stress is not going to do you any good.

The first step to getting over your sadness is admitting that you’re feeling it and accepting that having these emotions is completely normal. 2020 has been a challenging year and the holidays are looking a little different from what you’re used to, so allow yourself to experience and express your feelings. Don’t force yourself to be happy just because of the holidays.

Accept reality

It’s not the most ideal way to celebrate the holiday season, but you just have to accept the reality that it’s going to be a whole lot different this year, and that’s okay. While you might not be able to go home and visit your grandparents and other relatives, remember that their safety should always be the priority.

Besides, there are other ways to connect and celebrate with your loved ones during the holidays while still keeping everyone safe, such as hosting a virtual gathering via Zoom and other video conferencing platforms during Noche Buena.

Open up about your feelings

Once you have admitted and accepted your emotions, it’s also a good thing to confide in your loved ones and talk about the things that are bothering you. If you’re feeling lonely, reach out to friends, family, or your local church or social community for emotional support. It’s always helpful to open up about your struggles, and simply talking it out can do wonders for your mental wellbeing. And in the spirit of Christmas, don’t forget to offer a shoulder to cry on or a comforting hand to others who may be needing it as well.

Plan ahead

If you decide to push through with your holiday get-togethers with your closest family and friends, make sure that everyone is careful and safety measures are strictly observed. However, with everything that you have to keep in mind, things can easily get out of hand.

Lay out a holiday schedule so you don’t get overwhelmed with tasks. Set specific days for shopping, cooking, connecting with loved ones, and other holiday activities that you can do safely. For example, sitting down for a few minutes to plan out your menu and make a complete grocery list before stepping out to shop can easily save you unnecessary stress.

Set a budget

Even with a pandemic going on, the Christmas season can still put quite a dent in your wallet. In fact, the convenience of online shopping has made it even easier for us to overspend. You may also find yourself getting caught in the holiday cheer and adding more and more things to your cart. 

Before shopping for anything, set aside a budget for meals, presents, and any other things you may need. Once you have a set budget, you must decide that you’re sticking to it no matter what.

Don’t forget “me” time

The holiday season can quickly get overwhelming when you forget to take a break. Just because you have a full to-do list doesn’t mean you can’t pause for a bit. Set aside some time for yourself, whether it be a few hours or a whole day, to take a breather and clear your head. Walk your dog, read a book, or dance to your favorite songs — anything that will distract you for a while can greatly reduce your day-to-day stress.

Avoid stress eating

There’s nothing wrong with indulging yourself a little, but don’t let the combined stress and excitement of the holidays drive you into overeating. While it’s easy to eat more than you should when everyone around you is having fun, remember that keeping your body strong and healthy is vital when there’s a virus going around. Eat in small portions, stick to healthier options when you can, and be aware of your intake of sweets and alcoholic drinks.

Keep a healthy lifestyle

It’s important now more than ever to lead a healthy lifestyle while we’re in a pandemic. Keeping your immune system strong is one of your best defenses against the coronavirus, so make sure to continue eating healthy, getting adequate sleep at night, and getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily.

Don’t resort to bad habits

People can have varying ways of coping with emotional stress and anxiety, but you have to remember that resorting to bad habits such as smoking, drinking, and drug use can only do you harm in the long run.

Seek professional help

If you’re having trouble staying on top of your mental health, it may be time to seek professional help. Consult your doctor or a mental health professional if you’re persistently feeling depressed, anxious, irritable, and unable to get on with everyday tasks.

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