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Mental Health Monday: Battling depression, anxiety during pandemic holiday season

This year’s holiday season could look a lot different in order to stay as safe as possible. People could be struggling to cope with changes to holiday traditions.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala — This holiday season won’t look like any one we’ve experienced before. Some won’t be able to see their family and friends, and will have to try to get creative to make the best things during the pandemic.

For this week’s Mental Health Monday, our Sydney Stallworth tells us how we can make it through the end of the year while handling the feelings of isolation and anxiety that might come along with it. 

WATCH: Plans to travel? You could see changes at Huntsville International Airport during the holiday season

Things can feel a bit strange around the table this year during the holidays. Some loved ones may be missing. Some might not be able to make it because of the risks that come along with the coronavirus pandemic. And things might feel a little bit off. 

We checked in with psychotherapist and counselor Monretta Vega from Huntsville. She tells our reporter, “Some people may be looking to increase our ideas for the holidays, while others may be feeling very down because we can’t have our traditional celebrations due to COVID and due to the pandemic.” 

This year’s season of holiday cheer could look a lot different in order to stay as safe as possible. The CDC says celebrating virtually or with members of your own household is the best way to approach the holidays this year. Health officials are also urging masking and social distancing. The CDC is also discouraging travel, and indoor gatherings. 

That means a lot of people likely won’t be seeing extended family members who live outside the home. These restrictions can take their toll on your mental health. Vega says, “It can cause some negative feelings associated with possibly feeling alone, possibly feeling isolated, neglected or even feeling hopeless or worthless.” 

WATCH: Cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time because of the pandemic? Here are some tips

But, we can get a little creative, to try to make the most of things! Monretta Vega explains, “We can get on a Zoom call, Skype call, Facetime. But, we can also think about driving by, where we can at least wave from our car. We can at least look at our family members. So, this is the time when we be grateful for the small things.”

Monretta Vega says essential workers could feel the impact of this holiday season even harder than most. She adds, “It is important that we allow essential workers to vent and communicate what they feel. Because, they could be feeling tense, overworked, stressed, frustrated, irritable, along with maybe feeling some feelings of anxiety depression because of the uncertainties and even the traumas they see on a daily basis.” 

Vega says, this year-- even if you’re not exactly in the holiday spirit-- it’s important still acknowledge the day! She advises, “I would encourage activities... to decorate. Let’s still have a nice meal to eat, maybe even go out for a drive if it’s a nice day. But, do not allow yourself to just sit there in the negativity and the negative thoughts of being alone.”

Vega adds, “Let’s not do that this holiday. It’s very easy to with all of the uncertainty, the fear, the anxiety we have around us. But, plan this holiday season just for you the way you want to celebrate and do what you want to do this time around.” 

We’re wishing you a safe healthy and happy holiday season. 

Local and national help is available for people struggling with mental health issues or who may be contemplating suicide. If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, help is available by phone, text, or chat. 

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-8255 1-800-273-TALK
Free, confidential crisis counseling 24/7/365. You don’t have to be suicidal to call.
Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio 888-628-9454
Veterans Crisis Line 800-273-8255 or text 838255
Options for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing 800-799-4889
Disaster Distress Helpline 800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 

Crisis Services North Alabama 256-716-1000 or 1-800-691-8426

National Alliance on Mental Illness 800-950-NAMI or text NAMI to 741741

BoysTown National Hotline 800-448-3000 Spanish and 140 other languages available
BoysTown National Hotline TTD 800-448-1833

TrevorLifeline 866-488-7386 staffed 24/7
TrevorChat Click here for online instant messaging with a TrevorChat counselor, 7 days a week, 3pm-10pm EST
TrevorText Text TREVOR to 202-304-1200 7 days a week, 3pm-10pm EST

ImAlive.org 800-SUICIDE or Click here to Chat Now

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