ATLANTA — Avoiding the holiday blues will be more of a challenge this season with the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, but there are ways to keep stress from turning into depression.
There are numerous reasons the holiday blues might be even stronger this year. The pandemic has created family conflict, some people are facing their first holiday season since the loss of a loved one, and there's the anxiety of contracting the virus.
Jim Ford with Georgia’s Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has some tips on easing stress during the holidays.
He said it’s important not to put unrealistic expectations on yourself even when it comes to holiday celebrations.
“It's okay to say no if you're invited to a holiday party or gathering and you're feeling stressed out and overwhelmed,” Ford said.
Some may consider holiday traditions comforting, but if they bring memories of a lost loved one, consider starting a new tradition, he advised.
Social media can give one the false sense that everyone else’s life is happy and stress-free. Ford says it’s OK to open up and let your social media followers know that you need a sympathetic ear.
“That's also very refreshing to people because others will say, ‘I'm feeling the same way. Let's connect, go out and grab a bite,' you know, and support each other,” Ford said.
If your routine is stressful, take a break.
“It could be simply getting out of the house (and) taking a walk,” Ford said. “It could be exercising. It could be reading, journaling, meditating, praying.”
Ford also said people should consider visiting loved ones in another city for a change of scenery, especially if they've been feeling down for a while.
Volunteering to help families in need can help you see that others are challenged during the holiday season and possibly relieve stress.
Ford said if feelings of stress and sadness are persistent and overwhelming, it may be time to see a counselor.