For some people, the holidays can be a triggering event that sheds light on family divisions, substance abuse, and materialism. For others, it coincides as a sacred pause filled with worship, gratitude, joy, and togetherness. With trying times such as these, (R) it appears that all people of this country are united in a common struggle to feel the full extent of warmth, comfort, and the spirit of this season; however, losing the ability to gather together to celebrate them also has many appreciating their significance even more.
In fact, a majority of Americans have expressed that the holidays are taking on more meaning for them than they have previously. According to a recent survey of 2,000 participants over half have started their holiday preparations early, in September. Furthermore, many are planning to uplift loved ones through “old school traditions,” such as sending care packages and Christmas cards. According to the Sun, “Connecting with loved ones becomes more important than ever before with three in 10 people traveling less, nearly two in five planning to stay home and 35 percent said there will be fewer holiday parties to attend.”
I’ve written previously on the importance of social connection and relationships for health outcomes. As evident in the survey, people are being proactive and are well-aware that not being able to connect with loved ones will have an impact on their emotional well-being. During this moment in our history, when being physically together is not attainable by many, it is important to be mindful that the mood of our nation could be more shaken when the days of celebrations arrive.
The Aftermath of 2020’s Isolation
Suzy Cohen, RPh, reported on the “Side Effects of 2020” in an article review of studies on her website. From previous research in similar situations, and in other traumatic events, she cited evidence indicating that the resulting isolation and loneliness that is occurring has been associated with:
- A rise in suicides
- An upsurge in substance abuse
- More strain on those with mental health diagnoses
- An increase in caregiver burden
- A negative impact on children’s mental health
As noted in the last point, it appears that our littles are very likely to be as negatively affected, perhaps even more so, than adults. This makes sense, as their brains are still under development, pruning its neural connections, and going through structural changes until early adulthood. Whereas adults may be able to recognize signs and symptoms of mental health issues surfacing early, little ones may not be able to express their distress and the ramifications may not be apparent straight away.
In a rapid review of 83 articles, the authors analyzed 63 studies with over 50,000 subjects to determine the impact of forced social isolation and containment on the mental health of children. Although there were confounders and biases that couldn’t be avoided with a rapid review, there was consistent evidence that:
“…social isolation and loneliness increased the risk of depression, and possibly anxiety at the time at which loneliness was measured and between 0.25 and 9 years later. Duration of loneliness was more strongly correlated with mental health symptoms than intensity of loneliness.”
The researchers concluded:
“Children and adolescents are probably more likely to experience high rates of depression and most likely anxiety during and after enforced isolation ends. This may increase as enforced isolation continues. Clinical services should offer preventive support and early intervention where possible and be prepared for an increase in mental health problems.” (source)
The results of this review are particularly disturbing since a recent article reported on findings from a large Swedish observational study and found that youth with depression have a higher risk of 66 diseases. This creates a perfect chronic health and mental health storm!
Holistic Approaches to Modulate the Negative Impact of Isolation and Stress
It is evident that effective, integrative measures that supplement conventional care are needed to help society, and especially our little ones, cope with living in an uncertain, isolated, and tumultuous world. (R, R, R, R, R) As a naturopathic doctor (ND), it is my belief that naturopathic medicine (NM) can fill this unmet need for holistic resources that reduce the negative impacts of these recent happenings.*
Throughout all of 2020, I have advocated for being mindful of mental health. Now, it is especially important to prevent the physical and emotional health ramifications from these unrelenting stressors.
Below are some blogs and articles with tips on how to cope with loneliness throughout the holidays and beyond:
The “Side Effects of 2020” provides tips such as connecting virtually with loved ones and using other self-care measures.
“Feeling Lonely? Discover 18 Ways to Overcome Loneliness” also has interesting solutions such as talking to strangers, sharing feelings online and virtually, joining virtual meetups, volunteering, and stopping negative thoughts in their tracks.
“10 More Ideas to Help With Loneliness” includes ideas such as self-kindness, persistence, finding others who share similar hobbies (virtually), and reaching out.
“Tips for Coping with Loneliness While Staying Home” adds to the conversation by suggesting getting outdoors, taking a virtual exercise class, minimizing media consumption, and posting photos online.
I also offered some tips for decreasing stress and self-care.
Let’s not forget to use our essential oils either! Just recently, I summarized how essential oils can support mood and cognitive health. I also wrote a series on the brain-hormone connection and how essential oils may support the psychiatric conditions that result from a hormonal imbalance.
Summary on Isolation and a Holiday Year of Separation
People will be feeling lonely at the close of 2020, and it is important to have tools that support the emotional and physical repercussions of this.
They may seem like little measures, but keeping our brains and emotions in balance during trying times is essential to enhance resiliency and support physiological functioning.
Next week, I’ll be providing more naturopathic and integrative tips to help make the holidays of 2020 less draining and more cheerful.
Sign-Up for the Upcoming Essential Oils Holiday Webinar
Soon, I will be sending information on how to access my yearly essential oils holiday webinar. It will be re-posted the week of December 21st with a new password available ONLY to my subscribers. If you want to watch this 18-minute webinar, be sure to subscribe by December 20th.
Mental Health Resources
*If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and/or are suicidal, please seek professional mental health support:
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) — Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Crisis Text Line — Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor
- Lifeline Crisis Chat — Chat online with a specialist who can provide emotional support, crisis intervention and suicide prevention services at www.crisischat.org
Other Helpful Resources
Below are some of the highlights of the many free resources on this website:
- Four Essential Oils Blends for Supporting the Mind-Body and Easing Tension
- VIDEO: How Your Brain and Body Suffer with Too Much Stress & Naturopathic Medicine Tips for Calming the Mind and Relieving Overwhelm
- Video Recap: Essential Oils to Ease the Stress & Anxiety of Back to School
- The Importance of Fun, Music, & Play for Mental Health
- Video Recap: Essential Oils for Brain and Mental Health & Soothing Stress
- 10 Natural Ways to Relieve Stress and Calm the Mind-Body During Trying Times
- Video: A Naturopathic Doctor’s Approach to Thyroid Health Using Essential Oils: Video Recap & Additional Resources
Additional Supportive Techniques & Tools
- The Tapping Solution, A Technique to Lower Cortisol and Reduce Stress- Podcast interview by Dr. Kara Fitzgerald with Nick Ortner.
- Stress management tips and resources
Disclaimer: This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
According to experts and the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no approved standard of care treatment, cure, or preventative for COVID-19. Supportive measures and containment are in full force as a result. Please see the CDC website and your state’s website for more information and updates. They also state when to contact your physician related to symptoms and travel history, exposures. Please read my more detailed article on this subject here.
This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
Thanks Pixabay and Canva.