The Holi-Daze Season

With the holidays closely approaching it is clear the 2020 Holiday Season is looking a little different… and that is OK. The Holiday Season may ordinarily bring up some anxiety and loneliness, to begin with and now with the pandemic, stay-at-home orders and restrictions, even the political climate this year may have induced more of those feelings. It is all OK. I want to help you feel happy, to feel better and stronger, and most importantly to feel loved during this time.

With COVID-19 cases rising and the holidays around the corner, you may be feeling stress from ALL over. Maybe family members are planning on celebrating and you do not feel comfortable, torn about what to do. It could be that your family plans are changing and it feels weird or maybe holidays have always been difficult for you in the past and this year is even harder. Trust me - You are strong.

Days are getting shorter. Naturally our bodies want to stay warm and almost hibernate. This year is no exception to stress. With the world being more online than ever we really have to watch what we are feeding our souls with; our subconscious can pick up on the littlest of things. The holidays in a typical year can be overwhelming and now the warm holiday traditions you cherished feel upended and all over the place. My sister and brother-in-law welcomed a precious little boy in September - I can not imagine how they are feeling about celebrating the baby's first Christmas. I feel for those with children as the holidays will be much different. My husband and I moved several hours away from either of our families and the holidays will certainly be different in general. I also think about the elderly in facilities with no guest access due to the coronavirus. There is a feeling of loneliness, even when there are people around. You are not alone. You are never alone.

While it may be disappointing that some of your traditional holiday plans have shifted this year, try to be optimistic. The holidays often bring stress and anxiety due to the countless obligations, time spent traveling, hosting events and sitting in traffic.

Due to COVID-19, a lot of the activities that would leave you drained have to be saved for next year. Take advantage of the quiet winter season to decompress and do some self-care.

Mentally prepare yourself for the holidays.

Before deciding on what to do, when to do things, how to do things... even when to put things in the oven - FOCUS ON YOU.

Make sure you are getting enough rest, water, and food. If a plane is going down - the oxygen masks deploy. They don't say to put it on your child, neighbor, husband, etc... - you must put it on yourself FIRST. Holidays are no different. First and foremost you need to breathe. Sit in meditation or in prayer. If you are the type who sits in meditation, put on some soothing music and just chill, take a longer shower or hot bath, go for a drive or walk with no destination. Clear your head for a moment and if thoughts come racing in, do not get angry at yourself. Simply speak nicely to yourself and tell your thoughts you will get to them in due time, right now is your time, then go back to your breath.

Managing your expectations for the winter season can help you prepare for what’s to come. Sit down and be realistic with yourself. Do not try to force things. Forcing things to be a certain way, a way they used to be, or how you want them to be will not work the majority of the times applied. Think of a square peg going in a round hole. It can be done. You can shove that square peg so hard that it goes in but neither the peg or the hole will be left undamaged. It is the same for people.

Focus on what’s most meaningful to you this holiday season.

Is it the quietness, is it family or friends? You decide. The media and marketing will tell you that the new Playstation ...or XBox ...or BOTH will bring happiness to your family. Maybe it will. I am not to judge. It could also put a dent in your wallet leaving you stressed about finances for the rest of the month into the next. Sit down with those thoughts. Focus on what is meaningful - what is the meaning of meaningful.

Once you’ve identified what really and truly matters, plan how you can meet your expectations in a way that’s safe and responsible. Maybe you have a small family that has been close during these times, and celebrating at home is what you are doing. ...or if you are like me and live far from your loved ones - why not have a virtual dinner making fun activities like playing a virtual game or even a simple video call to say "I LOVE YOU".

Feeling Overwhelmed?

Learning to apply techniques to help combat the feelings of anxiety or overwhelm. First know it is OK to feel all the feels!

I love applying Tara Brach's RAIN technique. The acronym RAIN is an easy-to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness and compassion using the following four steps:

Recognize what is happening; Allow the experience to be there, just as it is; Investigate with interest and care; Nurture with self-compassion.

You can take your time and explore RAIN as a stand-alone meditation or move through the steps whenever challenging feelings arise.

Keep on moving.

While the winter weather can make you want to spend all your free time under a blanket, it’s important to remain active. It's easier to say than to do as I write this from under my covers on my bed... while my husband is out on a 3 mile walk with our dog. I am not saying constantly be on the move! No, no. I love being in bed - trust me. That being said exercise helps tremendously with boosting your mood. It releases endorphins and your brain feels happier and more satisfied.

If it’s too cold out for your favorite outdoor activities, there are plenty of ways to get active at home. I am a big fan of yoga and there are tons of online classes, even local studios are doing online these days. If yoga isn't your jam - put on some tunes and zumba or just dance around... even cleaning releases those endorphins. After this I am going to do some laundry and put away clothes. Watch out happiness - I am coming for you! (hehe)

If you find yourself making excuses to not exercise, schedule the exercise. Give yourself a goal to complete for a number of hours you will exercise in the week's time. Start with a small goal of something like 2.5 hours per week. You have seven days to hit that goal and you can get a good workout in as little as 15 minutes per session. If you work from home, use that extra time you’re not commuting to get in some exercise. I think of my sister when I type this as having a newborn is sure to have exercise filled days so don't over do thing! If you have children - that is a good amount of exercise right there, just be mindful when you are do things. Walking up or down stairs for what seems like the millionth time in a day is exercise. While taking those steps think "I am getting that exercise in!" and smile. Give gratitude for your legs, your heart, your ability to do all those things in a day that you do!

.. and remember to rest. Rest is important just as much as moving.

Lastly, take time for yourself.

While it may be disappointing that some of your traditional holiday plans have shifted this year, try to be optimistic. The holidays often bring stress and anxiety due to the countless obligations, time spent traveling, hosting events and sitting in traffic.

Due to COVID-19, a lot of the activities that would leave you drained have to be saved for next year. Take advantage of the quiet winter season to decompress and do some self-care.

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.

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.

Remember we’re all living through this together and will eventually get to the other side of this pandemic. You’re doing the best you can.

If you or a loved one is in immediate danger calling 911 and talking with police may be necessary. It is important to notify the operator that it is a psychiatric emergency and ask for police officers trained in crisis intervention or trained to assist people experiencing a psychiatric emergency.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Call 800-273-TALK (8255) If you or someone you know is in crisis—whether they are considering suicide or not—please call the toll-free Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline connects you with a crisis center in the Lifeline network closest to your location. Your call will be answered by a trained crisis worker who will listen empathetically and without judgment. The crisis worker will work to ensure that you feel safe and help identify options and information about mental health services in your area. Your call is confidential and free. Crisis Text Line – Text NAMI to 741-741 Connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message. National Domestic Violence Hotline – Call 800-799-SAFE (7233) Trained expert advocates are available 24/7 to provide confidential support to anyone experiencing domestic violence or seeking resources and information. Help is available in Spanish and other languages. National Sexual Assault Hotline – Call 800-656-HOPE (4673) Connect with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area that offers access to a range of free services. Crisis chat support is available at Online Hotline. Free help, 24/7.

Recent Posts

See All