Got the Holiday Blues?

December 22, 2020 0

Holidays are traditionally a time of family and friends, a time of sharing food and drink with those we love. Sometimes holidays bring melancholy memories of loved ones we no longer have in our lives. 2020’s holidays are not just like no other — they’re also much harder.

However, thanks to licensed clinical social worker Genevieve Banegas here at Mendocino Coast Clinics and others like her, many of our community members are getting the support they need to manage these tough times. Having someone to talk to with experience and interest in helping you work through difficult emotions and plan for the unfamiliar can really improve your quality of life. We have all been challenged this year and getting support from a professional is a good way to help get through it.

Although licensed therapists such as clinical social workers and psychologists have highly specialized training, Banegas said some of the most important work she does is simply to listen. Having someone really listen to you feels good, and talking through your feelings can help you understand them better.

Though the holidays are often a time of joy, they can also bring increased stress, and our time-tested way to feel better—spending time with family and friends — is out of the question for many of us because of the pandemic. So, what remedies can we turn to for depression and anxiety when our go-to option, the heart and soul of the holiday season, isn’t available to us? Banegas suggests a few simple principles to guide us this year.

First, recognize that this year is different; don’t try to force unrealistic expectations. If you feel down this holiday season, that’s OK. It’s what you do with those feelings that counts. Banegas suggests planning your holidays day by day, rather than simply letting them arrive. Plan your celebration based on what is possible and what makes you happy — food, music, a Zoom or phone get-together, favorite movies or other safe ways to spend time together. Just because it is new, doesn’t mean it isn’t fulfilling.

“We’re all having to find new traditions,” she said. “And maybe don’t start your day off with social media.”

For many, absences have defined 2020 — the absence of time with family and friends, the absence of financial and physical security, and for some, the absence of losing someone dear.

“Especially this year, we need to focus on what we have and the people we have,” Banegas said, and fill the empty spaces with new ways to celebrate. Planning ways to honor those not here, and remembering those who have left us, are not only good things to do, but they can be foundations of a happier holiday.

If happiness feels out of reach, you’re not alone. If you find yourself connecting with people less and less often, if your daily routine is dwindling and you’re no longer interested in regular meals, if personal hygiene is slipping, or if you find yourself drinking or using recreational drugs more often, it could be time to reach out for help. If you’re thinking of harming yourself, it is definitely time to reach out. There is no blame or shame in reaching out for help.

At Mendocino Coast Clinics, Behavioral Health specialists like Banegas, who offers her services in both English and Spanish, have vast toolkits for helping people navigate life’s stressful times. If you are doing fine but someone you care about is struggling, Genevieve recommends resisting the temptation to jump in and try to fix their problems, and instead to simply listen. If appropriate, refer them to local support resources.

Mendocino Coast Clinics’ Behavioral Health team is available Monday – Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at (707) 961-3492. Mendocino County offers what they call their “warm line” for assistance Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., with operators trained to listen and support people at (707) 472-2311 or toll-free at (833) 955-2510. Mendocino County also has a crisis hotline at (855) 838-0404 for those who need urgent help with mental health and emotional crises. Family and friends for whom someone else’s crisis has become theirs are also welcome to call the warm line or crisis line.

Finally, Mendocino County has a new crisis and advice text service. Those in need can send a text to 741741 to be connected to someone 24/7 for support and advice.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of our Behavioral Health staff at Mendocino Coast Clinics if you and your family need support. We are here for you.

Wishing everyone peace and health this holiday season from your neighbors here at Mendocino Coast Clinics!

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Copyright by Mendocino Coast Clinics. All rights reserved. This Health Center receives HHS funding and has Federal PHS deemed status with respect to certain health or health-related claims, including medical malpractice claims, for itself and its covered individuals. This Health Center is a Health Center Program grantee under 42 U.S.C. 245b, and deemed a Public Health Service employee under 42 U.S.C. 233 (g)-(n). Any claim filed against MCC must be done in federal court.