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Battling Mental Health During the Holiday Season

It's that time of the year again, and dear lord, it seems like the doom tunnel just got longer.

With the recent spike in Covid-19 many of the things many of us had hoped for now seem out of reach. I know there is virtually no way we will be returning to in-person school for this year in my county, and little pleasures I had been excited about (going to the gym, sitting in outdoor patios for food) seem to be on their way out as another full lockdown appears to be approaching.

I know many of us, myself included, struggle with depression, which is made worse by the holidays, but with a pandemic rampaging through our country as well, it seems that many of us are at a new all time low. Last week I was sobbing to my boyfriend telling him how tired I am of being stuck in my bedroom. There are 4 of us living in a 2 bedroom house and although he is currently working construction and gets to leave the house, I spend my days in my room since my roommates both teach/work online one needs to be in their room and the other in the living room, leaving me, my dogs, and kitten all in the bedroom for the majority of the day.

I try to do my best to get out of the house and take the dogs on a walk, and go for a socially-distanced, mask-wearing, sweat sesh in the afternoons, but even then, that leaves the majority of my day in a medium-sized room. Despite this, I know there are folks who have it so much worse than me. So many kids are crammed into small spaces with multiple other people working in the same room. I am so lucky to not be sick and to not have any loved ones sick either, but I still feel such dread when it comes to the upcoming months.

Please know, you are not alone.

Here's a list of things I would recommend to help get through this difficult time.

1) Journal

I have found that journaling does so much for my mental health. It gives me a space to rant that doesn't need to be shared with others, it also gives me a space to focus on gratitude and what I am thankful for.

2) Get Outside/Go on Walks

I know it is the last thing anyone wants to do when we're feeling low and like our body is full of wet sand, but even if it's just for 10 minutes and then you can back to bed and cry, I promise you will feel a little better (it might not be today, but it will help). Go commune with nature for a few. Get outside. Go for a walk/roll around your house. Go for a hike if you can. Grab a 2 leg or 4 legged friend and take a walk. Nature is magic in its healing ability, go be out and in it.

3) Establish Support

If you've been following me on my journey you know I talk about this all the time. You need to have go-to people. People who will uplift you, that you can share anything with. My supports know to call and check in if I have said I'm in a dark place. My best friend does what he calls welfare checks. All he'll do is text "welfare check". If I don't respond, I get a phone call. If I don't respond to the phone call he blows up my phone with texts and phone calls. It always ends up making me laugh because he is light-heartedly relentless until I answer.

4) It's Okay to Not Be Okay

I know many of us have seen this quote circling around social media, but really internalize that shit. You do not need to be okay. It is okay to tell others you are not okay. It is okay to express to your friends and family that you are not in an okay space. It is okay to get help. It is okay to not be perfect. It is okay to feel broken. It is okay to take a mental health day and do nothing. It is okay to no be okay. What is not okay is to not tell anyone and keep trying to struggle through. You are human. It's okay to be human.

5) Take Off the Holiday Pressure

Whatever pressure you might feel around the holidays take it off yourself. Tell your partner that you aren't doing gifts this year and that's okay. You can just enjoy a meal together instead or a moviethon in a blanket fort. Tell your family that you aren't cooking everything this year and that instead you're doing a potluck. Tell your family you want to keep everyone safe but still want to see them and are going to do family virtual happy hour instead of get together. Tell your partner you need help with chores, or any other mundane tasks that are draining your right now. Take the pressure off of finding a human to be with durning the holidays. Take the pressure off of getting the promotion, ring, being the best gift giver, whatever it may be. Take the holiday pressure off yourself. No one will be mad at you for taking care of you. The more you communicate and don't feel trapped the better. And if you do have a negative nilly in the bunch, cut them out. You don't need that in your life right now. Taking care of you is not selfish.

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