This Year is Different; No Need to Pretend Otherwise!

This Year is Different; No Need to Pretend Otherwise!

For further information about the pandemic in the Telluride region, go to For San Miguel County updatesgo here.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, call The Center for Mental Health’s crisis line at 970.252.6220. For help with deep stress, Behavioral Health expert Lindsay Wright can be reached by calling the Telluride Medical Center at 970-728-3848 or, if you are a patient, by messaging her through the Telluride Medical Center portal.

In this week’s Mental Health Moment, Lindsay shares her thoughts about mental health and the holidays during a pandemic. 

I’m wishing you the hope and cheer for the holidays!

But if you’re feeling, less than merry, know that you’re not alone.

According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, 64% of folks living with a mental health condition report that holidays make their conditions worse, with symptoms worsening between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Symptoms may be temporary, and can exist for both individuals diagnosed with a mental health disorder, and those with no known diagnosis.

Understanding this phenomenon can help.

One reason may be our expectations about what our holidays “should” look like and how we “should” feel during this time. Societally, there is an expectation that holidays will be the happiest time of the year, and there is often a long list of tasks (cooking elaborate meals, finding the perfect gifts, expertly decorating, et cetera) to be done to ensure that the holidays are picture perfect. These expectations can cause stress and anxiety, and if you have an existing mental health diagnosis, it may compound feelings that there is “something wrong with you” if you are not wrapped up in the joy of the season.

This year, we will be experiencing a holiday season unlike any other; concerns about the safety of others, missing family members, financial strain, isolation, and inability to participate in annual social traditions due to COVID-19 precautions, are all stressors we are facing for the first time.

If you are experiencing the holiday blues, there are coping skills you can use to make this time of the year feel easier.

First, acknowledge what you are feeling. If it feels helpful, talk it out with a friend or spend some time journaling about how you feel. This year is unlike those before, and we don’t need to pretend that everything is normal right now.

It is ok to admit that we may be experiencing sadness, anxiety, or loneliness; after all, we can’t do anything to address these concerns if we pretend they aren’t there. Examine your expectations, and re-evaluate them.

We know that this year is different, so there is no need to act as though it is not.

Maybe it’s ok if your holiday cards go out late, or that you didn’t create a stunning holiday display on your front lawn, or that you didn’t make a 7-course feast. We are all doing the best that we can, and it doesn’t have to be picture perfect.

Even though this year may be different, that doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate; if you can, take some time off, rest, connect with loved ones virtually, practice your favorite (COVID-safe) traditions and create new ones.

Be mindful of your food and alcohol intake, practice positive coping skills, disconnect from social media and move your body.

While different times of the year brings positives and negatives, we know that for many people, the holidays can be hard. If this is true for you, please be mindful to take extra good care of yourself, and if these symptoms do not alleviate or worsen, please reach out to your primary care physician.

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