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The holiday season is quickly approaching, and for many people that creates a mix of excitement and anxiety. From Thanksgiving to New Year’ Day, the holiday season creates emotional highs and lows. For people with mental health or substance abuse issues, that creates some difficult struggles. Throw in the additional stress of the Covid-19 pandemic and the need for mental health services becomes critical. So how do you cope with the start of this holiday season, Thanksgiving? With the pandemic and the government lockdowns this first holiday of the season will be challenging. Let’s look at some tips that can help you to celebrate Thanksgiving this year and maintain your mental health and sobriety.

Manage Your Stress

Don’t give in to the pressures you may be experiencing. Choose an option that offers you less stress and allows you to control your environment. That may mean you stay home and celebrate with your household, and maybe connect online with others. If you decide to host some family or friends establish some safety rules for everyone to relieve the stress of potential exposure. Maybe you set up the dinner outside or set up buffet style and allow everyone to spread out around the house a little instead of at one table. Having a plan will help to reduce your stress.

Take Care of Yourself

Make sure that you are taking care of yourself physically as well as emotionally. Eat healthy, get proper sleep, and get regular exercise. Staying physically fit and active will help emotionally. Make sure you are reaching out to your support team regularly and focusing on you.

Stay Connected

Stay in close touch with family and friends. With the pandemic that could mean phone and video calls, just be sure you are not isolating yourself. Even if you need to social distance, you can still take walks with friends. Planning some outdoor activities over the Thanksgiving weekend could be great for everyone.

Reach Out

If you need mental health support be sure to reach out. See your counselor, attend your meetings, use telehealth or online counseling if needed. Stay active with the programs at Aspire Counseling Centers to keep up with your rehabilitation and mental health needs.

Watch Your Eating

Many people struggle with headaches over the holidays, not just from the stress, but from overeating and excessive consumption of sugars, fats, and refined foods. This poor diet causes vitamin deficiencies and intestinal toxemia, so watch what you are eating and be sure to balance your diet.

Control Your Exposure

With the pandemic this Thanksgiving it will be even more important to control your exposure to any of your triggers. If you are dealing with substance use issues, then it is important to not put yourself in any situation where you are around people abusing alcohol or drugs. Know what your limitations are and recognize your triggers so you can control your exposure to them. With the pandemic you must also consider limiting your exposure to large groups of people. Plan your activities carefully and keep safety in mind, such as masks and social distancing.

Limit Negative Input

With the constant doomsday reports from the news and social media today, it is important that you recognize how much you are tuning in to that negative input. Turn off the news, put down the phone, and enjoy some fun physical activities, holiday movies, or anything that makes you feel good. Ask family and friends to give the politics and pandemic talk a break for the day during any Thanksgiving gatherings. If your contact with family and friends is going to be virtual due to the pandemic, you can still stay connected online with video chats without having to read every negative social media post. For your mental health, and those around you, take the holiday to break away from the negative exposure.

Enjoy the Little Things

It is important that you do take time to enjoy the holiday. Quality time with family and friends is the best treatment for those struggling with mental health and substance abuse. Play games, enjoy each other’s company, and above all, have fun!

Over 64% of people with mental illness report that holidays make their condition worse. The current pandemic is only going to make this holiday season even more difficult. Don’t try to struggle through the holidays alone, reach out to Aspire Counseling Services today to help you form a complete mental health plan before Thanksgiving.

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