The holiday season is a time of sharing, connecting, remembering and celebrating. For many people, the holidays have always been difficult.
If you find it hard to fully enjoy the holidays, you are not alone. All of us are figuring out how to celebrate in ways that support our health, which is more than protecting against COVID-19. Here are some ways to support your mental and emotional health as you prepare for the holidays.
1. Do what’s best for you and your family.
We have learned together about the many ways we can protect ourselves against COVID-19. Following these precautions will make your gathering safer. And the most important thing is to do what is best for you.
2. Set realistic expectations and boundaries
As we move toward the possibility of more traditional holiday gatherings this year, you may feel more than the usual pressure to make the holidays perfect or put them “back to normal.” Or you may still feel cautious and uncertain about how to celebrate.
Don’t be afraid to talk through and set boundaries, whether it’s about vaccines, masking, physical distancing or topics to discuss at the dinner table. You can also say “no” when something is outside the boundaries you set.
Be sure to make plans that:
- Make you feel safe.
- Fit your time and budget.
- Don’t overextend and stress yourself.
3. Recognize and respect your feelings.
When we ignore negative feelings, they don’t go away. Whether you are feeling anger, anxiety, stress, loneliness, grief or depression, naming and processing your feelings helps you take control of those feelings.
- Name the feeling.
- Allow yourself to feel the emotions in your body.
- Think about why you feel this way.
- When you find the cause, be kind to yourself.
Also take the time to recognize and appreciate positive feelings, including gratitude. Some tools that can help you manage your feelings include:
- Guided relaxation, meditation, or mindfulness exercises.
- Writing in a journal.
- Creative expression like singing or making music, creative writing, or creating artwork.
4. Practice self-care.
Being gentle with ourselves and staying connected to friends and loved ones, even when we don’t have daily time for the self-care we need, can help us keep balanced and stay well.
- Remember to eat, drink water and get enough sleep. These are the building blocks of self-care, but they’re often the first things we neglect during times of stress.
- Try to build some social connection into your regular routine in a way that works for you – Whether it’s in-person, at a distance, online or on the phone. It’s best not to wait for sadness or loneliness to set in, because sometimes that can make it harder to reach out.
- Many people find that being active is good for both their mind and body. Outdoor exercise, alone or with your household members or friends, can be an effective way to relax and help combat sad or anxious feelings. You can also exercise in your own home, alone or by joining online fitness classes.
- Setting expectations and personal boundaries and learning to say no are also important aspects of self-care.
5. Reach out if you need help.
If you’re struggling, you can talk to supportive people in your life, such as friends or family. If you need someone to reach out to, there are many resources to support your mental and emotional well-being year-round.
- Racial Equality Support Line: A peer support line for individuals and families mentally and emotionally impacted by racism.
- Safe + Strong’s Behavioral Health Support Line: 1-800-923-HELP(4357). Callers can get free, 24-7 emotional support and resource referral to anyone who needs it.
- Crisis Text Line: When someone is in crisis, they can text OREGON to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor who will help them move from a hot moment to cool and calm. This line will run through May 31, 2022.
- TIP NW: A citizen volunteer program that provides emotional support to survivors of tragedy to ease their immediate suffering and facilitate healing and recovery.
You can also find more behavioral health resources on these pages:
- Safe + Strong Oregon: Information about COVID-19, emotional health, and resources for Oregon communities.
- How Right Now: Information, stories and resources to help you cope and be resilient through the COVID-19 pandemic.
- OHA’s COVID-19 Community Resources page