Beating holiday blues during the pandemic

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Monday, December 7, 2020
How to fight the holiday blues this year
As the latest stay-at-home order begins to take effect in counties across the Bay Area, we are hunkering down for what will be the most unusual holiday season. A clinical psychologist gives tips for dealing with change and the holiday blues.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As the latest stay-at-home order begins to take effect in counties across the Bay Area, we are hunkering down for what will be the most unusual holiday season.

The new stay at home order will mean big changes to holiday traditions: No going shopping for gifts with family with retail capacity cut, year-end celebrations with co-workers won't be the same with outdoor dining over for 2020, and the entire family won't be gathering to open presents under the tree as we avoid mixing households.

How do we manage so much change?

"(You) don't have to like it, but just accept the limitations and sometimes when we accept the limitations of our situation we can then see solutions and opportunities," said Christine Garcia, PsyD, San Francisco Regional Director, Edgewood Center for Children and Families.

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If survival mode was getting us through the first few months of the pandemic, mental health experts agree that we will need to dig deeper to survive the rest of the year.

Dr. Garcia, a clinical psychologist, is encouraging us all to be more compassionate to ourselves and others, especially kids separated from friends.

"Have room for your kids to feel upset. Have room for yourself to feel upset and make space for joy and hope," said Garcia.

She encourages parents to monitor screen time in their kids, but suggests maybe easing up on restrictions if your child is partaking in engaging content that keeps them connected.

While we stay away from elderly relatives to keep them physically safe, she said it's important to check-in on their emotional well-being and monitor changes in their, and our own, behavior as much as we can.

TAKE ACTION: Get help with mental health issues

"Are you drinking too much? Are your kids having trouble getting out of bed? Are they overeating? Are you overeating? What are some of the things that are kind of moving outside of baseline?" she said. "If that happens, when that happens, it doesn't mean all is lost. It just means you need to reach out for help. That could be to other people to friends, it could be to crisis centers."

She is also encouraging her clients, no matter your religious practices, to remember the reason behind the holiday season.

"(Have) hope in even the smallest, smallest bit, hope to take that next step. A desert can be huge. But if you just focus on the next step. And then the next step after that, you will cross it. And that's all I hope for anybody during this time," she said.

If you or someone you know are experiencing an especially difficult time coping or managing during this stressful time, here are resources provided by the Edgewood Center for Children and Families to help:

WATCH: 'Your Mental Health: A Bay Area Conversation,' virtual town hall addressing COVID-19 impact on mental health

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