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Make sure to check in with your mental health this holiday season

If continuing pandemic worries are adding to holiday stress and anxiety, you are not alone. 9NEWS Mental Health Expert Dr. Sheryl Ziegler shares her advice.

COLORADO, USA — Health and safety may still be on people's minds this holiday season as more contagious strains of COVID-19 continue to spread. That can add stress and anxiety to an already high-stress time for many. 

>> Video above: How the winter season can impact your mental health

"We still have to be worried about gathering with people that we love, we definitely are going to have people not present in our holiday celebrations that we want to be there, " said 9NEWS Health expert Dr. Sheryl Ziegler. 

If this year's holiday season feels similar to last year's, you are not alone. Dr. Ziegler said this is where [she]  think hopelessness is starting to sink in for people. 

Here's her advice for those struggling with their mental health this holiday season:

Staying socially connected

Dr. Ziegler: We know that the greatest combat against depression against hopelessness is feeling connected. We have to wrap our minds around that it may not be in the way or the location of the frequency that we want it to be, but that still, if you feel connected to somebody, if you’re talking to them, if you’re Facetiming with them, you’re walking with them outside, you see them briefly maybe at the holidays, that that is worth it.

Don’t say well if I can't see them or I cant spend the whole week with them or a couple of days with them we should just play it safe, probably not a great plan. You want to connect as much as you can with people, so that’s the very first and top piece of advice that I would have. 

Focus on the things that you actually can control

Dr. Ziegler: Acknowledge the thought and the concern and say I’m gonna do what I can to control what I can,

What is it that you’re comfortable doing to control things? Are your kids vaccinated? Are you? Do you wear masks? Do you connect with people outside of here? Can you safely travel or take a road trip, that would be really fulfilling? 

If you listen to the news often or if you’re reading things or if you’re just even talking a lot with people, it can feel really negative, it can feel very scary and a lot of it is true and a lot of it is also just inundation of information. Take control of your media feeds, take control of where you’re consuming your news from and the amount of time that you’re spending there.

The 'good enough' lens

Dr. Ziegler: We really have to take good enough. We gotta go back to that. When the pandemic first started in March and April of 2020, one of the first things I would say to people is lower the bar and just take good enough because people were so worried. 

Please give yourselves a break, be gentle and kind to yourself, accept that good enough might be great this year and whatever tradition maybe you can't do or whoever can't be there, make the best of what you’ve got. Practicing gratitude and practicing the whole good enough and not perfect is incredibly important right now. 

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