Managing mental health this holiday season

Sandra ClarkBlount, Our Town Health

As we enter the holiday season, practicing certain habits can protect our mental health. With the added pressure and uncertainty of the pandemic, emotional stress can lead to health concerns such as high blood pressure, physical illness, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and possibly drug or alcohol abuse.


These issues can also exacerbate symptoms of existing mental health issues.

Patrick Jensen MD

Patrick Jensen, MD, board-certified psychiatrist with Peninsula, reminds us to be wary of signs and symptoms of anxiety, coping mechanisms under stress, and to tap into mental health resources during stressful and challenging times.

“Loneliness is an epidemic that has been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Dr. Jensen. “We are made for community, despite the fact it’s messy and imperfect. We are social creatures.”

About managing stress, he advises, “We tend to overcommit at the expense of any downtime, especially this time of year. Try to give people your ‘best yes,’ which means if you give your best self to the things you say ‘yes’ to, you inevitably must say ‘no’ to other things, and that’s okay.”

Dr. Jensen notes that our loved ones may be the first to notice when we become more irritable or depressed than usual. We may not recognize it in ourselves, but it’s important to listen when someone brings any concerning behavior to our attention.

Peninsula’s Holiday Survival Guide is a downloadable PDF that includes expert advice on common holiday stressors such as managing money, juggling schedules and coping with loneliness. It addresses how to deal with difficult relationships, managing anger and tips for people with addictive behaviors such as alcohol and drug dependency. The free, downloadable guide is available at PeninsulaBehavioralHealth.org/guide.

Peninsula, a division of Parkwest Medical Center, offers both inpatient and outpatient services for children, adolescents and adults. The hospital is located in Blount County with outpatient centers in Knox, Blount, Loudon and Sevier counties. Additionally, Peninsula offers care specifically designed for seniors with co-existing psychiatric and medical conditions at the Senior Behavioral Unit located at Parkwest Medical Center.

Information provided by the public relations professionals of Covenant Health.

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