Coping with COVID-19 and holidays

Suzanne Hamilton, Special report

All of the issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic have been stressful, but crises such as these are especially difficulty during the holidays. The American Red Cross and the national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) have teamed up to provide tips and positive action you can take to help you feel better and more in control while coping with the effects of COVID-19 during the holidays.

Some of the reactions we may feel are:

  • Feeling sad that a normally joyful time of the year now feels burdened with trying to find a new home or with memories of a lost loved one.
  • Feeling lonely, especially when holiday sights and sounds remind us of happier times or of those we will be missing from this year’s rituals.
  • Feeling overwhelmed or unable to plan daily activities, including holiday activities.
  • Feeling physically and mentally drained.
  • Having difficulty making decisions or staying focused on tasks at hand.
  • Becoming easily frustrated with daily tasks or with family and friends.
  • Arguing more with those around us.
  • Feeling tired, numb, or worried.
  • Experiencing changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
  • Increasing alcohol or substance use.
  • Children can experience all of the reactions above but they can also resume earlier behaviors (thumb-sucking, bed wetting, or acting out).

Most of these reactions are temporary and will go away over time. Try to accept whatever reactions you may have. Look forward, one small step at a time, and focus on taking care of your needs and those of your family.

Taking positive action can help you feel better and more in control. Getting ourselves and our lives back in a routine that is comfortable for us may take time, but it will have big payoffs.

Some things we can do to take care of our emotional health during the holidays are:

  • Take care of your safety and make sure your physical needs are met
  • Eat healthy with a balanced diet and drink plenty of water
  • Get some rest, which will give your body and mind a break so it can boost your ability to cope with stress
  • Reach out to others, giving and receiving support
  • Be patient with yourself and with those around you
  • Honor your holiday traditions but be flexible
  • Set priorities and tackle tasks in small steps
  • Gather information about assistance and resources
  • Stay positive
  • If you have children, give them extra time, hugs, and patience.

Please seek immediate help if you or someone you know is feeling that life isn’t worth living or if you are having thoughts of harming yourself or others. You can also call the national suicide hotline at (800) 273-8255.