Holiday mental health: AdventHealth experts give advice on how to beat sadness and anxiety due to coronavirus

Holiday mental health: AdventHealth experts give advice on how to beat sadness and anxiety due to coronavirus

By: AdventHealth Corporate Communications

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays may bring a host of feelings to family members. In the wake of COVID-19, this holiday season may also lead to a struggle between returning to normalcy and celebrating loved ones lost to the virus, as discussed in the November 18 AdventHealth News Briefing.

Dr. Louis Allen, psychiatrist and medical director of the Behavioral Health Center at AdventHealth Orlando, and Chaplin Juleun Johnson, director of department and mission at AdventHealth, offered insights and advice on how to deal with life changes in the coming days and weeks.

“The rush into normalcy is not as important as the rush into wellness,” Johnson said. “Physical wellness, spiritual wellness, and mental wellness are all important parts of the process. This holiday season provides catharsis.”

Allen suggested using holiday gatherings as an opportunity to find common ground with family members and friends who may have experienced anxiety, grief and social stress during the global pandemic.

“It’s a happy time of year, but it’s so important that we keep this memory and celebrate the loved ones we lost,” Allen said. “Despite the grief of loss, you are allowed to rejoice.”

Allen said early intervention is important when trying to reach people who are depressed or have anxiety surrounding the holidays, especially in children.

“We are in dire need of mental health services for children and young people,” he said. “People need a comfortable space to talk about their feelings and be open to talking about them.”

Johnson, who distributes to patients and their families at several AdventHealth Hospitals locations in Central Florida, has witnessed the exacerbation of feelings and attitudes that provide an opportunity for change through spiritual engagement.

“We have an opportunity to repair and reset broken relationships over the holidays,” Johnson said. “Not everything is black and white. By embracing gray through conversations with people who have different opinions, we can break down barriers and come closer.”

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