Your Health Matters


Mental health during the upcoming holiday season

"Will it be like last year?"
Posted at 3:17 AM, Nov 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 17:06:01-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Another holiday season impacted by COVID-19.

“The common thing I’m seeing [similar] to last year is, 'I feel alone in this.' Overthinking. Overprocessing. 'Will it be like last year?'" said Associate Marriage and Family Therapist Jacob Kountz.

Kountz said it’s important to be clear about what you’re comfortable with.

“Saying no is tough, especially for those who are more likely to say,'Yes, I’m okay. Give me a hug,' when they're feeling kind of uncertain about if they value that in the moment," said Kountz.

Last year, most of us celebrated the holidays virtually but that’s not necessarily the case this year. Families can see each other in person this holiday season but gathering for the first time in so long can be worrisome for people.

“Just be aware that because they’re feeling a little iffy of the situation, it’s likely a universal feeling that others are feeling too," said Kountz.

Kountz said you should have honest conversations about what everyone is comfortable with and not take people’s preferences personally.

“It’s going to take a dialogue, not just giving up and saying, 'You know what, they're just for or against me right now.' No, just take a breath and notice that they’re probably struggling just as much as you," said Kountz.

Some families may be celebrating without a loved one they’ve lost to COVID-19. Kountz said doing something in honor of that person like writing a letter or visiting a memorable spot can help. And remember to accept the feelings of grief.

“It’s kind of this messy ball of yarn that's all over the place. It's tangled. It's hard to unweave. [Know] that that's absolutely normal," he said.

And if you’re celebrating virtually or alone this year, still reach out to others.

“I could sit and do nothing and soak in difficult feelings, or I could attempt to give it my best try," said Kountz.

Write people letters or take advantage of today’s technology by using phone calls or Zoom.

And remember, the pandemic will eventually get even better.

“This is still likely a temporary state. Things are changing all the time," said Kountz.

Kountz also said he encourages everyone to seek out professional help for extra support. Click here for details on mental health resources in Kern County.