Taking Care of Your Mental Health is More Important Than Ever
Under normal circumstances, there’s a belief that everyone is supposed to be happy and in a good mood during the Holiday Season, as we are gathered with family and friends and flooded with images of holiday festivities.
But these days are anything but normal.
“COVID-19 has caused a lot of people to lose a sense of hope,” said Dr. Clifford Querol, a psychiatrist and physician with Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills/Ventura County. “This is true as many people are experiencing strained finances due to job losses, distance from family and friends, and a sense of failure that has caused them to feel more depressed and anxious. As a result, many are resorting to using drugs and alcohol for temporary comfort.”
Under current stay-at-home orders by state and county governments, residents are unable to enjoy traditional get-togethers with extended family and friends, and for many, this adds stress to their mental health. As a result, many people feel sad or melancholic during the holidays, and our current social environment makes the situation even more difficult during this time of the year.
But all hope is not lost, and we have the opportunity to remind ourselves what the holidays are all about, Dr. Querol says. “Sometimes, the simplest act can have the greatest impact on another person’s well-being by extending a kind word or a smile,” he explains. “In order to do that, however, we cannot forget to take care of ourselves, especially when it comes to our mental health.”
If you feel melancholic, sad or depressed, Dr. Querol notes:
- Feeling this way is normal, considering all the changes and unknowns that we have faced this year due to the pandemic.
- Take the time to allow yourself to mourn the loss of your prior expectations.
- You don’t have to set lower expectations – just different ones.
- Holidays can be celebrated, families can be celebrated, but we might have to find new traditions.
- We might not be able to give as many presents to our loved ones, like we would normally do, but we can still remind them how much we care for them and how much they mean to us.
If your depression or anxiety persists, it’s important to seek help from your primary care physician or mental health care provider to get better, Dr. Querol said.