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Minimizing Stress During the Holidays: 5 Ways to Cope This Year

Pandemics are stressful. This stress can ruin the upcoming holiday season and leave you feeling empty. Being realistic, planning ahead and seeking support can help ward off the negativity just in time to spread cheer this coming month and the ones following.

There are multiple reasons why someone may already find this time of year difficult. In a normal year, the holiday season presents all kinds of demands like shopping, baking, cooking, cleaning and entertaining. It can be hard to manage everyone’s expectations, especially during these hard times set by COVID-19.

Even amid this moment, it is possible to minimize the stress that accompanies holiday celebrations with a few tips and tricks. Healthily coping will help you, the people you care about and your whole community stronger.

Let’s talk about it.

Have realistic expectations

The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. This time around, we all know they might actually be much different. This doesn’t need to warrant stress or disappointment, but rather, an opportunity to embrace new traditions.

Will some of your family members not be able to join because of their state’s travel restrictions? Or do you have family members that aren’t comfortable traveling in general? That’s okay. Schedule a Zoom session during dinner or a FaceTime after dessert. With today’s technology, staying six feet apart doesn’t have to fully eliminate connecting with your loved ones. 

Use the resources provided to you as the biggest gift received this year.

Be prepared

Shopping early will help ease your mind and keep you safe. This will help avoid bigger crowds who left their own shopping to the last minute. However, you may not want to go shopping in person at all the months leading up to the holidays. Even with all the precautions stores are trying to implement to keep shoppers safe, it may be best to order everything online from the comfort of your own home.

Check with your favorite stores to see what online shopping options they may have if you are looking to avoid in-person shopping altogether. Remember to plan ahead by ordering gifts in advance, too. With COVID-19 impacting some shipping times, make your purchases with enough wiggle-room to accommodate any potential late arrivals.

We know you procrastinate when it comes to wrapping presents. This year, give yourself a few extra weeks to avoid getting out the paper and bows.

It’s okay to say “no”

Protect yourself and your mental health by realizing that everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Each person in your circle is probably taking the seriousness of COVID-19 differently, and having opinions opposite from others is expected.

Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Friends and family members will understand if you can’t participate in every activity this holiday season if your comfort level isn’t there. 

Be true to your own beliefs and limit the number of people celebrating with you if you feel necessary. You may find out that you prefer smaller get-togethers, anyway.

Take a breather

Balance staying informed regarding COVID-19 with the feeling of information overload. It’s okay to take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories if you feel necessary. Hearing about it repeatedly can be depressing and cloud the excitement of the season.

Make some time for yourself and do the holiday traditions you enjoy. Spending a night alone watching your favorite Thanksgiving or Christmas movie can be the refresh you need.

Please note that it is important to stay up-to-date on local information and requirements covering the pandemic. If you choose to wear a mask while driving alone in your car, that’s totally up to you. If you wear a mask in a store that doesn’t require it, again — your choice. Just be sure to respect posted guidelines and the decisions of others just as you want them to respect yours. 

Seek professional help if necessary

Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself in a hole impossible to dig yourself out of without professional help. If you find yourself in the dumps, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor or mental health professional about the next steps to take.

The pandemic amid the holidays is uncharted territory for most. Navigating it can be tricky. 

Despite all of this, take control of the holidays and what they mean to you. With a little planning and positive thinking, this year can be memorable in a good way.

We wish you all comfort and joy.

For more information on dealing with stress, please visit cdc.gov.

For more tips and tricks, keep updated on uicsl.org.