A Message from the NVFC Chaplain on Managing Holiday Stress
November 24, 2020
By Chaplain John F. Long Jr.
The holiday season is upon us, but this year many of us will experience these celebrations in very different ways due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Years of traditions will be honored differently, as how, where, and with whom we celebrate the hallmarks of the season are altered to reduce the spread of the virus. While we can still take time for rest, our connection with loved ones and celebration may be different to allow everyone to stay safe.
These changes may trigger a variety of emotions for some people, including grief or anger, as they recall the celebrations of holiday seasons in years past. When stressful situations are prolonged, we may experience feelings of irritability, anger, sadness, sleep problems, trouble concentrating, or difficulty making decisions. Additionally, those of us who may live alone, or far from friends and family, or who have lost a loved one, may find the holiday season especially difficult.
The best way to manage stress and to find peace and moments of joy this year is through active self-care.
- Take care of yourself and maintain your resilience by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting restful sleep.
- Connect socially by spending time with your loved ones through the use of electronic devices that can connect us instantaneously.
- Find support from a partner, family member, friend, counselor, online group, or chaplain.
- Practice gratitude by taking a few moments each day to focus on all that you are thankful for.
- Think of creative ways we can honor our traditions and the meaning of these holidays differently.
- Understand that you may experience sadness or a sense of loss, and that connecting with others can remind us that we are not alone.
Use the following resources if you need additional support:
- National Volunteer Fire Council’s Directory of Behavioral Health Professionals
- National Volunteer Fire Council’s Share the Load resources
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255
- The National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
- Crisis Text Line – text HOME to 741741
- Your department or workplace’s employee assistance program (EAP)
- Your local peer support team
- Your fire department chaplain
Consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site for information regarding fall and winter holidays, including considerations when hosting, attending a holiday gathering, holiday travel, reminders about mask wearing, handwashing, limiting contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items, keeping safe around shared food and drink, and identification of lower, moderate, and higher risk activities, for your planning purposes.