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How can I cope with holiday stress during COVID-19?

For many people, the holiday season is an overwhelming time, even in typical years. However, with COVID-19 cases on the rise and new restrictions being placed, you may be feeling even more overwhelmed than usual. In fact, it is completely normal to feel increased stress and anxiety during times like these.

While this season may not look like what you had anticipated, here are some practical mental health tips so you can have a happy and healthy holiday season:

  • Find ways to celebrate safely. Even with COVID-19 restrictions in place, it is still possible to celebrate the holidays with your loved ones while still staying safe and responsible. Whether you host a virtual dinner, spend the holidays at home or create new traditions, be creative and have a meaningful holiday season at home.
  • Take care of your body. Make sure to eat healthy foods and get enough sleep. While the winter weather can make you want to spend all your free time under a blanket, it is also important to remain active. Try to go outside and get some fresh air, but if it’s too cold out for your favorite outdoor activities, there are plenty of ways to get active at home. You can invest in workout equipment, watch fitness videos online or even incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine by walking more.
  • Learn how to respond to feeling overwhelmed. While it can be frustrating, recognize that some unforeseen circumstances are out of your control. Instead of focusing on what you can’t control, focus on what you can. Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help ground you when you feel overwhelmed by unpredictability.
  • Spend time with others. Plan fun activities and things to look forward to during the colder and darker months. Some fun activities to add to your winter list could include:
  • Go on walks or partake in outdoor activities with your household.
  • Plan a weekly movie or game night with those in your ‘bubble’ to look forward to every week.
  • Have a craft night where you decorate and personalize your masks.
  • Re-discover your pantry and make something new in the kitchen with your family.
  • Have a dance party with your family (or with yourself).
  • Take time for yourself. Take advantage of the quiet winter season to decompress and do some self-care. When you find an activity that brings you peace, incorporate it into your daily or weekly routine. By being consistent and intentional with your self-care routine, you can reduce or prevent feelings of stress and anxiety. Here are some small ways to stay balanced when you begin to feel overwhelmed:
  • Reset. If you feel burned out, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, drinking lots of water and staying active. Incorporating these things into your routine will leave you feeling good inside and out.
  • Moderate. When stressed, you may find yourself turning to alcohol or unhealthy foods. It’s important to recognize this coping mechanism only gives you short-term relief and can worsen your physical and mental health.
  • Organize. Turn on your favorite playlist, podcast or movie and clean out that area of your house that you have been putting off. You will not only feel accomplished but being in a tidy space also brings clarity.
  • Plan. Take the extra time at home to sit down and plan out some realistic goals you’d like to achieve in the upcoming year. While 2020 has been unpredictable, it can be motivating to focus on the aspects of your life that you do have control over.
  • Participate. With more time inside, you can finally read that book, take that online course, bake that recipe or kick off the hobby you’ve been dying to try. Staying productive with activities you enjoy can help you remain present.
  • Connect. Winter months can amplify loneliness. Check in with your loved ones through phone or video chat.

Source: CDC, Indiana University Health

This article was written and edited by the Tayo editorial desk and has been reviewed by an independent panel of subject matter experts.

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