This article originally appeared in MindBodyGreen.com.
If you're feeling conflicted about the upcoming holidays, you're not alone. With COVID fears, politics, and social distancing preferences taking center stage, having good self-care and inner balance is more important than ever.
This year's holiday season is a paradoxical source of joy and tension. Even those who've never suffered from anxiety and stress are wrestling with a sense of overwhelm after months of pandemic-related life changes. Those with pre-existing mental health issues are discovering that additional stressors—and disrupted holiday traditions—are exacerbating anxiety, stress, and depression. The groups that may be hit the hardest include those who are isolated due to relationship status, health issues, age, or strict social distancing preferences.
Why do the holidays hold so much power and meaning? In the midst of a busy, ever-changing world, the holidays symbolize safety and continuity. When life feels challenging and stressful—whether from illness or other issues—holiday traditions not only provide joy, they also offer a sense of normalcy. Seeing family members, enjoying holiday traditions, and partaking in the flow of familiar banter can feel deeply loving—and all this works magically together to provide inner strength, love, connection, and a sense of belonging. Yet with nearly every aspect of the holidays being affected—from social distancing to travel concerns—the much-treasured routines of holiday festivities will be anything but predictable and routine.
Your best defense this year is to embrace a proactive, balanced self-care stance. Here's the approach I recommend for this year's holiday season: