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It’s OK not to be OK: Spotlight on Mental Health during the Holidays

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Anxiety is a normal, healthy reaction to uncertainty, instability, constant change and things that may harm us and our loved ones. Everyone worries about their own health and the health of their families and friends; everybody has concerns about school, work, finances, their ability to take part in their community, social events and enjoy hobbies, and so many other important parts of their lives.

Nearly a quarter of adults in the U.S. report feeling anxiety – that number doubles during the holidays, when stress and depression are exacerbated. Add to that the ongoing global pandemic that is keeping so many of us home for the holidays away from our families and friends and it can all feel overwhelming and even hopeless at times. While anxiety is a normal and expected reaction to the pandemic, too much anxiety can cause harm to one’s health and well-being.

“It’s hard to stop and regroup when we’re stressed and overwhelmed, especially when there’s so much going on that affects us and that we have little or no control over,” said Dr. Diane Thompson, Medical Director of Centura Behavioral Health. “There are practical tips that anybody can use to minimize the stress that comes with the holidays, especially being patient and kind with ourselves and others.”

Stress and anxiety can ruin holidays and hurt one’s health, but being realistic, planning ahead and seeking support can help relieve stress and ward off depression.

  • It’s OK not to be OK – If you can’t be with loved ones, or if you feel sadness, anxiety or grief, realize that it’s normal. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings; you can talk to someone you trust or keep a journal. Don’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
  • Reach out – If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out family, friends and community in safe and accessible ways. Call, phone, text or video call your family and friends. Try an online forum, virtual meetups or outdoor gatherings (always following safety precautions). Many social organizations and groups have websites, online support groups, social media sites and virtual events.
  • Take care of yourself – Eat as well as possible, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and make time for hobbies and activities that bring you joy. Self-care is instrumental to understanding our own needs and managing our emotions.
  • Take care of others – People who are more vulnerable to the pandemic may have to take extra precautions and isolate themselves more than others. If you are able and it’s safe for you to do so, ask friends, family members or neighbors if they need help with grocery shopping, household needs, or small errands. Simply checking in regularly by phone, text, or video call can make a big difference – for you and for them.
  • Cut back on screen time – It’s important to be informed, but constantly checking social media and looking for updates on the news can really take a toll on mental health. Limit the time you spend online and social media, especially if your anxiety increases.
  • Try something new – Exploring self-management strategies like mindfulness, yoga, meditation, art and exercise can help manage anxiety and all other emotions, both negative and positive.

You are not alone. People and families from all walks of life face emotional distress, the burdens of life-altering circumstances and mental health issues and concerns. At Centura Behavioral Health, compassionate mental health professionals provide confidential, top-quality care, individualized to address your unique needs. Centura mental health professionals include Board-certified psychiatrists, Masters-educated and licensed psychotherapists, social workers and counselors, registered nurses and medical assistants, who work closely with patients and their loved ones to help them understand their conditions, what to expect and the pathway to improved health.

Whether you’re seeking help for a major life change, mental health issue or substance abuse problem, Centura can help with caring and compassionate behavioral health services. Visit https://www.centura.org/care-and-health/behavioral-health to learn more.

By Andrea Sinclair

This is a sponsored post provided by Centura Health.

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