How to Cope with Family Separations During the HolidaysPat Fontana
Just like most of the rest of 2020, the holidays will be different this year. More people will be celebrating alone or with immediate family members rather than traveling for large gatherings. It is very important for you to understand how to cope with family separations during the holidays, for your mental as well as your physical health.
Holiday Celebrations During COVID-19
There are now over 12 million cases of COVID-19 in the US, with over 250,000 deaths. The number of cases continues to increase daily. As a result, the CDC strongly recommends that people stay home during the holidays this year. The organization states that celebrating virtually or limiting your in-person celebrations to members of your own household is one the most low-risk ways of spending the holidays. They define your household as anyone who lives and shares common space in your home, such as family members or roommates.
Acknowledge Your Own Feelings
The sense of isolation you are feeling now is completely understandable. Many people are facing the same struggles as the holidays approach. One way to cope with family separations during the holidays is to identify your feelings. When you are able to figure out your emotions about the upcoming holidays, it can help make things a little less overwhelming for you. Sort through your emotions by talking with a friend (on the phone or via video chat), starting a journal, and spending some quiet time thinking about what you are feeling and how you can best cope with your emotions.
Accept Your Own Needs
These are difficult times. Your mental and physical health are critical for you. During the holidays, even if you cannot be with family, make the effort to be kind to yourself. The holidays will be more stressful than usual this year, so you should recognize your triggers so you can be prepared. Identify what makes you feel mentally and physically agitated. For example, is shopping too stressful for you? Recognize your own needs and then take steps so you can more fully cope with your stress.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) suggests a few steps you can take to better cope with family separations during the holidays, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Find something to be thankful for and write it down. Thank those who have supported you this year. If you are physically healthy, be grateful for your well-being. Start a journal and keep a list of what you can be thankful for, even during the challenges of the pandemic.
Don’t overdo it. Prioritize your time, making a daily schedule so you won’t feel overwhelmed by tasks and deadlines. Learn how to say “no” to plans that don’t fit in your schedule or that will just cause you more stress and anxiety.
Practice relaxation techniques. Try deep breathing, mindfulness, and meditation to calm yourself and to stay calm when things become a bit too much for you. When you take a break and refocus, it will benefit your mental and physical health.
Get some exercise and fresh air. Take a walk, go for a hike, ride a bike, or do anything else that’s healthy and enjoyable for you. Be sure to stay appropriately distanced from others on the trail. That daily exercise can naturally produce stress-relieving hormones in your body and improve your physical as well as your mental health.
Take care of yourself. Make time to do something that makes you feel good, such as reading a book or listing to music you love. Eat nutritious meals, including whole grains, vegetables, and fresh fruit in your daily diet. Eating well helps stabilize your mood and keeps your body healthy. Get enough restful sleep to avoid some of the triggers of mental health conditions.
Avoid drugs and alcohol. Although you may be tempted to turn to these substances when you are struggling with your isolation or with being away from your family during the holidays, drugs and alcohol actually can worsen your stress. When you are challenged with a substance use disorder, you can find support and treatment that will help you through a successful recovery.
You may be overwhelmed, between being isolated for much of the year and stressing over the upcoming holidays. A positive support network of close friends or family members can help you cope with family separations during the holidays as well as with your mental health issues.
It may be time to reach out to a mental health professional as well. Treatment options can include helping you pinpoint events that become triggers for you and working with you to develop a plan to address and overcome those triggers.
Contact R&A Therapeutic Partners for Help
At R&A Therapeutic Partners, we help you develop healthy coping skills. We provide a judgement-free zone so you can feel free to discuss your struggles with a professional. During COVID-19, we continue to support you and your mental health and coping needs, helping you find the path that works best for you. Please contact the Miami therapeutic consultants Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno to learn more about the services R&A Therapeutic Partners offers. Call us at 786-452-7352 to schedule your appointment.
At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.