The holidays can be a time for joy. Many of us look forward to spending time with loved ones and enjoying time off from work. However, with a global pandemic, the holiday season can feel overwhelming and even disappointing. For others, the holiday season continues to be challenging. Trying to gather safely during a pandemic, grieving the loss of loved ones, or the increased feeling of loneliness may contribute to holiday stress. It is imperative to manage those emotions and feelings to keep from feeling overwhelmed or depressed. Identifying those feelings and using the tools below can help to experience peace during a difficult time.
It is normal to have a myriad of feelings at various points in life. These are most prominent during the holiday season. Common warning signs that suggest the holiday blues include:
- Increased irritability
- Sense of being overwhelmed
- The need to stay busy even when you are tired
- Lack of sleep
- Lack of motivation to engage in activities that you would usually enjoy
Symptoms such as these that persist over a period can be harmful to our wellness. These feelings and emotions are signs individuals must pay attention to. If you find yourself experiencing any of these, here are a few tips to help overcome those feelings:
Know your supports. The holidays often come with the expectation that you will be in a “holly jolly” mood, which others should see. If these times are difficult, reach out to someone who listens to your feelings in a non-judgmental way. Know which friend or family member to call when you feel frustrated. A sound support system allows you the space to talk freely about the things happening in your life. If these symptoms continue and make it difficult to function daily, reach out to a mental health professional.
Set boundaries. Gathering during a pandemic can bring intense emotions. There may be different expectations around gathering that may make you uncomfortable. Practice saying no to things that do not feel right for you this year. If you want to spend time with family members or friends, suggest another way to gather in a way that works better for you. If you fear being around individuals you dislike, distrust or have anxiety about, choose your boundaries. Whether choosing to limit the topics to discuss or your interaction, set parameters you are comfortable with. Setting clear boundaries creates a safe space where you can exist in awkward spaces peacefully.
Take time for yourself. It is challenging to managing emotions when wearing so many hats in life. It is crucial to schedule a time for breaks. Even with so many things on the “to do” list, taking a break allows you to rejuvenate and refresh. This can also motivate you to move forward more healthily. When dealing with the loss of a loved one, relationship, etc., it is vital to take those breaks for yourself to grieve and heal. Spend time honoring the memory of a loved one. Allow yourself space to cry, dance, yell, or grieve to process and release those feelings. While grief comes in waves, you can develop tools that can help you cope.
The holiday season, like any other season, can be what you make of it. Remember to honor your emotional space. Seek support if that feeling becomes challenging to manage.
Chante’ Gamby is a writer and therapist. Follow her on social media @Fringefam, or her website, www.fringefam.com.