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Loneliness, stress and the holidays: How to cope while still spreading holiday cheer

Posted at 10:07 AM, Dec 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-25 23:14:21-05

CLEVELAND — This year has been tough.

“We’ve seen a lot of anxiety, depression, worsening substance abuse disorders,” said Dr. Libbie Stansifer, chief medical officer with Signature Health.

The battles some Northeast Ohioans shared with us back in October are still being fought today. Joyce Williams told News 5 she was forced to make sacrifices to protect herself from coronavirus, which ultimately led to her ditching holiday plans with her family early on.

I do not plan to travel because of COVID and I’m at that age where you know I could easily get sick and maybe not recover,” Williams said.

“It’s such a time of uncertainty,” said Dr. Tiffany Dent, a licensed psychologist.

So, what can you do to help cope? Dent says it starts with self-care and making yourself a priority.

“Meditation exercise, things that you’re able to continue to do during this time and being able to identify and embrace those things while still engaging in the practices that we’re hearing from the CDC,” she explained.

If you’re overwhelmed with holiday stress, the Cuyahoga County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) says coping with drugs won’t help. Instead, the agency suggests you practice breathing or try reconnecting with friends and family.

Stansifer says helping and serving others can also help uplift your spirits and relieve stress.

“We all have neighbors that we can help shovel the snow, there are many ways I think that we can support one another,” she said. “That human drive for connection and to be useful and helpful is so important it’s so key to just that general feeling of wellbeing.”

But accepting reality and the fact that things are different this year is what Stansifer says will truly help get us through.