IDAHO — We're now months into the COVID-19 pandemic and just wrapped up Election Day, but all of that comes weeks ahead of the holidays, meaning you might be feeling more stressed than usual.
Dr. Hossam Mahmoud, Regence Behavioral Health Medical Director, says even though the holidays are supposed to be joyful, they typically end up a little stressful anyway.
"I think it has to do with the fact that we place so much pressure on ourselves to have a perfect time, and the reality is that we almost never have a perfect time because there's no such thing as a perfect time," explains Dr. Mahmoud. "I think it's really important to recognize that, accept that things are not usually perfect, and work on resilience for ourselves and family and loved ones."
Dr. Mahmoud says he expects the 2020 holiday season to feel more stressful than in previous years for a variety of reasons like COVID, an economic downturn, and the stress of the election.
He says he tackles situations like this with something he calls the 'Three R's.'
"First is recognition, second is radical acceptance, and the third is building resilience."
Recognition is acknowledging that a situation is stressful, followed by the radical acceptance that while things are stressful, there are things you can and cannot change.
Once you've reached that stage, Dr. Mahmoud says that's when building resilience can begin.
"Resilience is really having enough strength in order to cope with stress and then bounce back, and there are so many things we can do ahead of time to build resilience for us and for our families and loved ones."
Some things to consider now: self-care, working on mindfulness techniques, breathing techniques, proper nutrition, exercise, sleeping better, and staying hydrated, especially in winter.
"The next would be working on social connectedness because physical distancing should not be synonymous with social isolation. It's important to build on our current networks, reach out to the people whom we love, and have conversations ahead of time as to what this holiday season is going to look like for our loved ones, and have serious conversations about what this holiday season's going to look like," says Dr. Mahmoud.
Dr. Mahmoud says there are cases where you may need to seek professional help. He says to look at stress as a continuum, but if you start to feel overwhelmed, depressed, or so anxious you cannot function, reach out to a physician, primary care doctor, or mental health professional. You can also have conversations with family and friends and build your support network.