Holiday depression and COVID-19: Ways you can cope

The holiday season can often be a difficult time with feelings of anxiety and depression, which is understandable due to expectations to cook meals, shop, bake, clean and entertain. Some are now experiencing a different type of stress, replacing the flurry of having too much to do during the holiday season with uncertainty, isolation and the loss of routine and tradition due to COVID-19. You also may be worrying about your health and the health of your loved ones.

It’s important to try and stay positive. These are a few suggestions:

  • We may not be able to spend this holiday with our loved ones, but we are spending time apart so we can be with them next year and the years to come.
  • Try to create a unique holiday experience. For example, if you typically gather with friends and family and share dishes and/or desserts, have fun recreating by holding a pie contest or best-looking dessert competition over a virtual Zoom call.
  • If it’s not too chilly, include a walk, hike or bicycle ride as part of your holiday plans this year. Spending time outside, even just for a few minutes, will boost your mood and lower stress.
  • Focus on what matters. Holidays are not all about presents. Financial woes can make it easy to lose sight of that.  The simplest gesture can make someone’s day.  Write a hand-written card and mail to a friend or family member, volunteer to help distribute food to those in need or donate gently used coats, hats and gloves to a local shelter.

Some may experience the “holiday blues.” These symptoms are milder and should go away once the holidays are over. These symptoms can include, but are not limited to difficulty concentrating, feeling irritable or angry, feelings of exhaustion and fatigue and feelings of loneliness. Pay attention if these symptoms do not subside since they should lift shortly after the New Year begins. Also, notice any changes in mood or behavior that are different from the norm.

If you notice these types of behaviors are not subsiding, talk to your loved one with a kind and comforting tone. Let them know you are concerned about them and suggest they speak with a behavioral health professional.

If you or a loved one need help, UofL Health – Peace Hospital’s Assessment and Referral Center offers no-charge assessments 24/7 at 502-451-3333 or 800-451-3637.

Or contact the 24-Hour Crisis and Information Center Line at 502-589-4313 or 800-221-0446.

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Kelly Gillooly, M.Ed., LCADC

Kelly Gillooly, M.Ed., LCADC, is the director of behavioral health outreach at UofL Health – Peace Hospital. She is a licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor. Kelly has worked in the behavioral health field for more than 25 years and has been with Peace Hospital since 2012.

All posts by Kelly Gillooly, M.Ed., LCADC
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