CMHC: Maintaining Health During The Holidays With Ongoing Pandemic

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020 4:23pm

By Community Mental Health Center, Inc., news release

One of the most enjoyable yet busiest times of the year is now upon us, and it can be a stressful time as well.

(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - One of the most enjoyable yet busiest times of the year is now upon us, and Community Mental Health Center, Inc., 285 Bielby Road, Lawrenceburg, wants to provide information on how to manage your health during the holidays, particularly with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Times of stress, particularly those which may carry a potential for exposure to a dangerous virus, require us to remain calm, to seek reliable information to guide our actions, and to be considerate of those around us as we try to conduct our lives. We also may consider seeking support if we have lost a family member, loved one, or friend to COVID-19, or have had to significantly adjust our life routines to manage potential exposure.

While always being thankful for family, friends and the hustle and bustle of daily life, we all know that sometimes demands can become too much for anybody, especially during the holidays. Family obligations, social and travel demands, and financial strains can take their toll on all of us. The key to counteracting the pressures of the holidays is planning, planning, and more planning!

COVID-19, of course, is a complicating factor, with public health officials cautioning us to reduce if not eliminate contact with groups of people to help manage spread of the virus. During the holidays, this kind of advice can make us feel anxious if not angry about losing the opportunity to gather with family and friends to celebrate. Public health officials ask that you consider the future health of yourself and your family and friends when making present holiday plans.

Problems with issues related to holiday stress are more prevalent than many may believe. According to information on the website of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the “holiday blues” are “temporary feelings of anxiety or depression during the holidays that can be associated with extra stress, unrealistic expectations, or even memories that accompany the season.” Symptoms of the “holiday blues” may include fatigue, tension, frustration, loneliness or isolation, sadness, or a sense of loss.

NAMI’s website says “The difference between the holiday blues and clinical anxiety or depression is that the feelings are temporary. However, short-term problems must still be taken seriously because they can lead to long-term mental health conditions.”

To help with holiday stress, try to develop and maintain realistic expectations of yourself and others. Plan and tackle one day and one project at a time, including holiday shopping for meals and gifts, travel, and social and family events. Remember to stay involved in order to feel the spirit of togetherness and joy of the holidays, but also remember to give yourself some time to take a break and recharge your batteries. Exercise is one essential way to maintain good physical and mental health.

Whenever possible, do not procrastinate in your planning and shopping. Stay rested and don’t push yourself too hard physically or financially. Don’t overindulge in alcohol or food, both of which affect your health and make you feel sluggish. Be particularly careful about alcohol, which is a depressant and which, while it affects your health, also can affect your mental perspective and your judgment in a negative way, putting you and others in physical danger. One sure way to ruin the holidays, and perhaps the rest of your life, is a tragic accident or a drunken driving arrest.

“Holiday blues,” which also may be called “winter blues,” may also be related to a clinical malady called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. According to U. S. health statistics, about 11 million people are diagnosed every year with SAD. The key component in SAD is the fact that during

the winter, there are fewer hours of sunlight as the days grow shorter. Sunlight has been shown to be important in the processing of nutrients in the human body and to other essential operations of the body.

Sometimes, a case of the holiday or winter blues can develop into a full-blown case of depression. If you or someone you know has been experiencing any of the following symptoms for two weeks or more, professional help may be appropriate: persistent sadness or unhappiness; lethargy; loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities; irritability; sudden change in appetite; disruption of normal sleep pattern; physical discomfort; difficulty thinking or concentrating, and thoughts of suicide or death.

Community Mental Health Center, Inc. offers 24-hour crisis counseling available by calling (812) 537-1302 or CMHC’s toll-free crisis hotline at 1-877-849-1248. CMHC operates outpatient counseling offices in Dearborn, Franklin, Ohio, Ripley and Switzerland counties. For information about an office near you, please call (812) 537-1302 or visit CMHC’s website at www.cmhcinc.org.

All CMHC services are provided without regard to race, religion, disability, gender, color, age, national origin, ancestry, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political belief, status as a veteran, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law.

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