How to self-care, improve mental health amid pandemic holiday

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As everyone comes up with new ways to celebrate this season, it can take a toll on some.

These times pose challenges to us all and that is why doctors recommend ways to take care of ourselves this season as we navigate a new way to holiday.

The holiday season is not the same and may actually be even tougher this year.

Some find stress relief in going for a walk or some social-distanced outdoor activity.

UChicago Medicine's Child and Adolescent Psychologist Sonya Dinizulu said the antidote for some of our feelings of anxiety, stress and sadness can be self-care.

"It's not meant to be commercialized or glamorized," Dr. Dinizulu said.

Dr. Dinizulu said small bits of self-care throughout the day can help with outlook and mood.

"Self-care could be one minute of turning off your phone, maybe going to a quiet space. Sit with yourself and take deep breaths," she said.

Meditation can be a tool to help work through difficult emotions.

These days, Chicago Shambhala Meditation Center offers guided meditations online.

"Meditation is a way of making friends with yourself," said Alice Dan with Shambhala Meditation Center of Chicago.

Laura Stukel instructs people in journaling. Lately, she's suggested quick five-minute writing sessions. Ending the day reflecting on a joyful moment is something she calls 'joy jots."

"You just sometimes feel like it's not the time to feel joy and the opposite is true. In moments of stress we need to give ourselves permission to look for joy," Stukel said.

"It's helped me," said journaler Michele Carson.

Carson is a high school teacher who said daily journaling these last few months has kept her focused and more calm.

"I'm not in control of what's going on around me but I am in control of what's going on in my mind," she said.

Dr. Dinizulu reminds us that we are social creatures and even if we can't be together in person during the holidays, checking in on someone by phone is caring for others and will give your self-care a boost.
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