How To Handle Stress This Thanksgiving During a Pandemic

How To Handle Stress This Thanksgiving During a Pandemic

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, many of us are realizing this may not be the traditional family and friends gathering we are used to. Normally it’s a time to celebrate, connect with others, and share food and fun. Although the holidays can be stressful for some, this year may be particularly difficult due to the inability to gather. Many people may be experiencing anxiety, depression, and loneliness due to long-term social distancing.

Due to COVID-19 Pandemic, this holiday season will be different, and this will negatively affect some of us. Dealing with this pandemic on regular days can be difficult. Now we are throwing in some holidays and the stress from this can affect our mental health and well-being.

We hear about the stress of the pandemic and how it can affect us all but let’s take a closer look at stress and how we can work to not allow it to completely destroy our holidays.

What is stress?

Stress is the body's reaction to pressure from certain events and situations. It can cause a physical, mental or emotional reaction. Stress can show up as tension in the body or cause stomach-aches or headaches. It can result in us feeling frustrated, irritated, nervous or worried. Stress is a normal part of life and in short bursts, it can be positive as it can help you meet a deadline or avoid a dangerous situation.

There are two main types of stress:

Acute Stress: These are the daily stressors we all face- running late for work or forgetting an important appointment. This type of stress is what keeps us alert, focused and motivated to keep going and getting things done. Often people are able to manage these small stressors and build up greater resiliency. If these small stressors are not processed properly, or one begins experiencing too many of them for too long it can take a toll on your mental health and well-being.

Chronic Stress: This can develop due to exposure to high-pressure situations over a long period of time. Our bodies are not meant to be under stress for too long and when it does it can have a detrimental effect on our mind and body which can lead to things such as anxiety, depression and burnout.

How to Handle Stress Over Thanksgiving

1. Stay Connected: Although you may not be able to connect with your friends in person, you can still use technology to stay connected. Many applications have been developed that allow you to interact through video with the people, you love over the holiday season. There are also many online workshops, hangout events, that allow you to meet new people and stay connected socially.

2. Take Care of Your Physical Health: Since stress has such an impact on the body it’s important that we take care of it by eating nutritious foods, moving it through exercise or yoga and getting enough sleep.

3. Take Care of Your Mind: Developing a healthy mindset is an important part of tackling stress. Accepting that stress happens and focusing not on all the problems or what you cannot help you not get consumed by fears, worries and worst-case scenarios. Our mind can be our best friend or our worst enemy. Learning to adopt a growth mindset, mindfulness and developing healthier coping skills will help you get through these holidays with peace of mind.

4. Breathe: How we breathe can impact the level of stress in the body. Often people take shallow breaths into the chest which often maintains stress and zaps one’s energy. To help the body during stressful times one can learn to take deeper belly breaths. This form of breathing can help you move out of the sympathetic “fight or flight” system the body goes into with stress and into the parasympathetic “rest and digest” we need to recover and develop greater resiliency.

5. Reach Out: If you are feeling the stress is too much to handle and it is negatively impacting your well-being it may be good to reach out to a professional who can help you develop new skills and tools to help you manage your stress better. Many people struggle with chronic stress, but you do not have to if you are willing to do things a bit differently and get some support.



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