Currently… Holiday mental health w/ COVID

The holidays can be a rough season for all of us, especially now with COVID-19 preventing many typical holiday traditions. In normal years, family gatherings, holiday shopping, and gift exchanges were the norm. This year, however, many of us do not get to go through with these traditions due to social distancing and the pandemic. This sudden change can impact our mental health more than you may realize.
I’m not the only person to notice this change in mental health; according to a study done by the National Alliance of Mental Illness, 64% of people that struggle with mental health have reported it worsening during the holiday season. Additionally, 45% of adults have reported their mental health declining since the pandemic hit, according to pcdc.org. While there are not yet statistics on the correlation between the two, we can predict that their combined impact on mental health is far from positive.
There’s a number of reasons for people to feel down during the holidays this year. Many people, like myself, have a family member who has an increased risk to contract the virus which means that family gatherings, even with social distancing precautions, are a no-go. This sudden change can have a greater effect than we realize and the CDC has recommended that we spend extra time with our immediate household to compensate for that loss. A creative and safe way to see family members in conditions like this is to have a Zoom Christmas party, I know many of you are probably sick of hearing about Zoom and wish to banish its existence but if it is the only way to see your loved one and keep them safe, you might think otherwise.
Not only is it difficult to miss out on seeing your extended family, but many of us are sick of being in the house all the time, as of right now 42% of American workers are working from home, and that isn’t even including students, according to Stanford News. Not being able to see your peers is difficult for everyone and it can be especially stressful when your classmate or coworker is now your sibling or parent. Many people consider their job or school as a relaxing getaway from their family members and they’re now missing out on that opportunity which can cause additional stress. Parents have it especially hard as they may struggle to find time during the holidays to wrap their children’s Christmas presents.
Another reason that seasonal depression is at an all-time high this year is that many of us have lost loved ones to COVID-19. According to the University of Southern California News, more than 1.2 million Americans have lost a close family member due to COVID-19. Going through holiday traditions this year will not be the same for many people because they will be doing these things that typically excite and spread holiday cheer, without the people we normally do it with. While there is no way to replace a lost loved one, we can lean towards the ones that are still with us and be thankful for their support.
Although dealing with the loss of our sense of normalcy is difficult, it’s important to remember that we’re doing this for a greater cause, and by this time next year, things will hopefully be back to normal. In the meantime, there are still things you can do to spread holiday cheer safely. This year, there are more drive-thru Christmas light attractions than ever before because it can be done safely. Additionally, donating Christmas presents to families in need is a great way to help others struggling this season.