It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
Mental health experts are cautioning people that as COVID fatigue meets holiday stress it could be harder and harder to fight depression and anxiety, or for those already experiencing it, it could intensify significantly. Many people are feeling the pressure to be “okay” even though they are not really feeling okay. There are so many additional daily stressors this year that contribute to just simply wearing people down – parents working from home and dealing with remote learning or day program services, finding safe support if you can’t work from home, struggling to hold on to businesses, isolation, holiday expectations, money, fear, loss, anxiety about getting COVID, anxiety or fear of someone you love getting COVID, and so much more – and make it harder to maintain emotional or mental well-being. Mental health professionals urge people to take the time to recognize that this is a very stressful time, and it is okay to feel that stress, but the challenge comes with how you deal with the stress. Research shows that increased, and compounding, daily stress (chronic stress) increases the risk of developing serious depression or anxiety if the chronic stress goes unaddressed or unhealthy coping mechanisms are used to deal with the stress.
Many people have holiday traditions, expectations, or special things that they do every year to celebrate. Mental health professionals suggest that even though it will be a non-traditional celebration this year people should still do something meaningful to help keep spirits up. Some of the strategies that have been suggested are DSP (we all know how important DSPs are)
Decorate – whether a little or a lot, have something festive in your space
Social Connections – maintain your social connections even if it is just a 5-minute phone call it is important to stay connected to family and friends
Plan – make plans for what you want your holidays to look like next year.
Above all, talk to someone! If you are struggling know that you are not alone. Project Connect, a telehealth support line for individuals with disabilities, their families, direct support professionals, and others who support individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, is available free of charge and it is here for you. I wish everyone a healthy, safe, and peaceful holiday season!