Mental health and gathering for the holidays

The holidays will look different for many of you this year. Cases of COVID are still spreading in rural America. Maybe the virus has claimed someone you love and you will be spending your first Christmas without them.

It can have a huge affect on your mental health.

Stress, worry, isolation. It is the reality rural Americans are dealing with.

According to Dr. Steve Wengel, with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, “Lots of studies are currently being done on the U.S. population and of course populations around the world, and not surprisingly seeing high rates of anxiety, depression, insomnia. In fact, now there is a new term, ‘corona-somnia’.”

Now, the holidays are upon us, but instead of a time of joy, these negative feelings are being amplified. However, knowing what you are going to do can help.

“Come up with what works for you and your family to mitigate the risks, to reduce the risk of transmission,” Dr. Wengel states. “You know, make a plan and carry out your plan. I think what that involves is really clear communication with family members.”

If you are lucky enough to spend time with your loved ones, there is also the stress of dealing with different views on the current situation.

“Recognize there will be some disagreements. Let’s say you decide for your family that it really makes sense to do this remotely...,” he adds. “You may have a family member that disagrees with that and thinks that is overreacting, and so you may face some guilt and pressure, but I think that’s where pre-planning pays off. Having a plan and sticking to your plan.”

Whether you see them in person or virtually, Dr. Wengel says that keeping your relationships strong and thriving will help many people through this difficult time, as well as having a routine and time to just relax.”