Celebrating holidays is a way that we connect with others by sharing memories and traditions. A year ago, many of us were "zooming" with loved ones due to safety concerns. What a difference a year makes! Many are now resuming in-person gatherings with friends and family with a greater sense of safety. However, even with the reduction of this pandemic-imposed isolation, some of us are dealing with the impact of grief and loss.
Here are six coping strategies for navigating this holiday season:
- Acknowledge your feelings: Despite expectations, you don't have to feel "merry and bright." If you feel anxious, stressed, depressed, or are grieving, be authentic; let your trusted friends and family know how you are really feeling. Discuss any reservations or precautions that are important to you before the gathering so you can agree upon ground rules.
- Connect with those who give you support: Research shows that social support can help ward off the effects of stress that can lead to depression, anxiety, and other health problems. Friends, family, and professionals provide different forms of emotional support. If there are stressful topics, like politics or the coronavirus, ask them to limit discussing it.
- Give yourself grace: We are still in a global pandemic. Holiday plans may remain virtual this year, but you can find ways to celebrate the season. Remember, the spirit is about sharing and caring.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Don't forget the importance of daily exercise, sufficient sleep, a nutritious diet, managing stress, and limiting alcohol. Appreciate the little things and express gratitude to others.
- Self-Care remains essential: We need a break from constant stress. Take at least 10 minutes every day to engage in pleasurable activity that gives you a diversion from your worries. Set attainable well-being goals. This might be exercising, meditation, journaling, praying, gardening, cooking, connecting with others, listening or playing music, leisure reading, sleeping, or any activity that restores you.
- Accept help if you need it: Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling depressed, irritable, anxious, hopeless, and/or unable to face the day. If these feelings persist, talk to your doctor, a mental health professional, a support group, or a call center. Consider adding the Work/Life Connections-EAP phone number (615-936-1327), the National Suicide Prevention hotline phone number (800-273-8255), and the Middle Tennessee Crisis Call Center phone number (615-244-7444) in your contact list in case you or someone you know is struggling. This way you can access help immediately.
If you find yourself struggling with coping or healing, contact Work/Life Connections-EAP to set up a confidential appointment with one of our EAP Counselors by calling 615-936-1327.