‘It’s OK to not be OK’: Stress and anxiety amplified during the holidays, experts say

The holidays are not always the most wonderful time of the year, and that rings especially true in 2020. If you’re struggling, experts say you’re not alone, adding there are ways to cope and places to seek help.

This year, the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay has experienced an increase in calls. They say it is normal to see a spike in calls around the holidays, but they expect that number to increase this year.

The holiday season is normally a time to gather with loved ones.  However, this year, with surging COVID-19 cases and community spread of the virus, many people are following expert advice to stay home and not gather with loved ones.

"It’s OK to not be OK, I mean this is a year where people who have never experienced behavioral health issues are experiencing them, anxiety and depression," Clara Reynolds, President and CEO of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay said to FOX 13 in November.

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Those feelings may be amplified for people who already have a diagnosed condition, and that is OK too, Reynolds added.

To cope, experts say try making time to do stuff that make you happy, put a priority on the things you can control in your life, find a way to give back, or reach out to friends and family and really open up.

"More than likely if you’re feeling this way, someone close to you is also feeling this way as well," Reynolds said.  "So sometimes just sharing how you’re feeling between two people will do so much to alleviate some of that anxiety and depression type feelings that you’re having."

If you’re feeling depressed, anxious, or just need to talk, the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay is available to take your call anytime – 24/7. All you need to do is dial 211 or head over to www.crisiscenter.com for more resources.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also an option. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 (Crisis Text Line)

CLICK HERE for the warning signs and risk factors of suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK for free and confidential emotional support.