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Valley Health offers tips to manage mental health during holidays, COVID-19

9 December 2020 Covid19 Luray/Page County Shenandoah County Front Royal/Warren County Winchester Frederick County Clarke County News

The holiday season is stressful for many every year. This year, a global pandemic is also causing anxiety to run even higher.

In addition to the holidays and COVID-19, many people also experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). April Lubkemann, LCSW, says symptoms of SAD can include sudden sadness, fatigue, hopelessness, and depression. Lubkemann works in Outpatient Behavioral Health Services at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital in Woodstock.

While visiting loved ones this holiday season may not be a possibility, there are several things you can do to help ease the feelings of loneliness and isolation.

“Right now, people just need a sense of community,” said Lubkemann. “They feel like they need other people to verbalize what they are going through and validate that they aren’t going through their thoughts and feelings alone. If you can’t do this in person, find ways you can get it online.”

Some tips to engage with relatives and friends include utilizing video chat apps like Zoom and FaceTime and staying in touch through texts and phone calls.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) adds these helpful tips:

•Reframe “I am stuck inside” to “I can finally focus on my home and myself”

•Stay close to your normal routine

•Avoid obsessing over endless COVID-19 coverage

•A chaotic home can lead to a chaotic mind. With all the uncertainty happening outside your home, keep the inside organized, predictable and clean

•Start a new quarantine ritual. For example, journaling is a great way to jot down thoughts and feelings to reflect on later.

•Use telehealth as an option to talk to a professional if your anxiety becomes unmanageable. Valley Health offers telehealth virtual visits for patients.

While the ‘hustle and bustle’ of the holidays may be less than previous years due to travel, shopping, and quarantine restrictions, Lubkemann says we should still remember to not let our to-do list get in the way of irreplaceable moments.

“We are taught by the media and cultural beliefs that the holidays should be perfect, but what does perfect look like? I have a lot of people who wish their family was normal and could get together like a Hallmark movie. But we want to empower people to create their own normal, and be satisfied with that.”

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