Working toward a safe and enjoyable holiday is one of our objectives for all students, staff and families. We recognize that the current global situation and the upcoming holidays can be a time of heightened stress for many people. It is natural to feel anxious during this pandemic, and if you are feeling stress, know that you are not alone.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has put together a list of ways to make the holidays safer and less stressful. Here are a few ideas:
- Celebrate virtually or with the people you live with.
- Stay home or cancel your gathering especially if you or someone you live with is sick, or has been in contact with anyone else who may have been exposed to COVID-19
Remember that outdoor events are safer than indoor events.
Check the CDC’s celebrating winter holidays flyer for more tips and ideas for reducing stress and celebrating the holidays safely.
The CDC offers the following list of things you can do to manage your stress, especially as we deal with COVID-19 during this holiday season.
- Learn about COVID-19. Knowing the facts and stopping the spread of rumors about COVID-19 can help you feel more in control of what is happening.
- Help stop the spread of COVID-19 by washing your hands often with soap and water, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding close contact with other people – even your friends. COVID-19 may be spread by people who do not have symptoms. These actions will keep you from getting sick and spreading the virus to other people you care about.
- Wear masks when you do leave your home to help slow the spread of COVID-19. People who should not wear a mask are children under age 2 and anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
- You can be social, but do it from a distance, such as reaching out to friends by phone, text, video chat, and social media.
- Find ways to relax. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate
- Try to do activities you enjoy, like exercising, gaming, reading or other hobbies.
- Keep to a schedule. Plan times for doing school work, relaxing, and connecting with friends.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs. These substances can weaken your body’s ability to fight infections and increase the risk of certain complications associated with COVID-19.
- Talk with someone you trust about your thoughts and feelings.
The Aha! Parenting Blog offers tips for keeping COVID-19 from ruining the holiday season. Even though holiday traditions may not be the same as in years past, families can find ways to cope with the changes brought on by the pandemic and even create new activities to bring families together.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also offers some suggestions for “staying chill during the hectic holiday season.” They include focusing on spending time with family, concentrating on one task at a time, and setting a good example and taking care of oneself. For more information on how to keep the holidays happy, check out these suggestions from healthychildren.org.
It is important for parents to watch for signs that children and teens are struggling. The Academy notes there are a few symptoms to watch for:
- An infant or young child clings to parents, has sleep problems, doesn’t eat as much, or a preschooler starts thumb sucking or bed wetting.
- An older child or adolescent acts fearful, anxious, or withdrawn, argues more or seems to be more aggressive. They also might complain more about stomachaches or headaches.
- A teen or young adult gets into trouble, can’t focus, hides problems because they are afraid, feels bad about the problems, or feels like they are a burden to their family.
If you or your family members are stressed from the holidays or the pandemic, there are resources available to help.
In addition to the resources listed above:
- Download the NM Connect app for quick access to crisis lines and mental health resources.
- The new 5-Actions Program offers a self-guided roadmap for ready to understand and address addiction.
- The Los Alamos Mental Health Access Project houses a listing of local therapists as well as basic mental health screening tools.
- If you are in an emergency situation, please dial 911 for immediate assistance.
Here is hoping for a safe holiday in 2020.