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The holiday season is here, and this time of year is often associated with joy and happiness. However, for some people, the holidays can trigger feelings of sadness and depression. These feelings, often described as the “holiday blues,” are not uncommon according to Quincy Medical Group Behavioral Health Therapist Paul Warning.

“A lot of people have stress during the holidays. There’s an expectation to be ‘merry and joyful’ this time of year, and for people struggling with mental health issues that can feel like an extra burden,” he explained.

This year these feelings may be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the pandemic, some traditions you have come to expect with the holidays may look different than years past and these changes can be difficult to handle emotionally, Warning said.

“I think it is important to realize that this pandemic is a temporary situation. Our social distancing will not be permanent and it is likely that by this time next year life will look a lot more ‘normal.”

To help during this time, Warning says it’s good to adjust expectations and make the most of our current situation. For many, this may mean virtual get-togethers instead of face-to-face gatherings. Staying connected and in touch with how you’re feeling is essential.

“It’s important that people maintain and try to strengthen their social connections,” said Warning. “It’s also okay to take some time for self-care. Acknowledging that there is stress, there are changes and making some room for that while still doing the things we need to do that help care for others and ourselves.”

A behavioral health therapist can help you. Warning said you should speak to your doctor or a behavioral health therapist if you are experiencing changes to your sleep and appetite, feeling sadness that doesn’t go away, losing interest in activities that used to be fun, feeling the sense that you “can’t turn my mind off” and you’re worrying all the time, and hopelessness and thinking that it would be better for myself and for others if I weren’t here.

For more information on Quincy Medical Group Behavioral Health services or to schedule an appointment, call 217-222-6550, ext. 3418.