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USF Health experts share tips on staying safe and well during the holidays

Three of USF Health’s experts provided guidance on getting through the holidays at “Living Well in the Age of COVID-19,” a virtual event for USF donors, alumni and patients.

College of Public Health Dean Donna Petersen discussed the current CDC guidelines and ways to stay safe through the holiday season as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. Emotional intelligence expert Dr. Joann Quinn shared suggestions for keeping a positive outlook, and USF Psychiatry Department Chair Dr. Glenn Currier provided these tips for fighting stress and fear over the holidays:

  • Put the bottle down. If you began turning to alcohol to cope with the stresses of COVID-19, it’s time to back off the quarantine habit. Studies have shown that alcohol only makes depression and anxiety worse over the long term.
  • Stop stress eating. Your physical health shouldn’t suffer for the sake of your mental health.
  • Sleep better. It’s foundational to good health, so if you’re struggling look online for cognitive behavioral techniques you can do for yourself to fight insomnia and manage sleep disturbances.
  • Exercise. Vigorous exercise that gets your heart rate up at least three times a week can work as well as some medications for anxiety.
  • Go on an internet and news diet. Limit your news and social media intake to avoid topics that will aggravate you.
  • It’s OK to say no during the holidays. You don’t have to say yes to every gift idea or invitation (especially when it’s better to social distance).
  • Help someone else. One solution to feeling bad can be to help others. Look for neighbors who could use your assistance, or call an extended family member to foster human connections as an antidote to depression.

If you’ve tried these tips and are still feeling overwhelmed, consider asking for help from others:

  • Reach out to friends or family members. People who know you well can be a great resource for feeling better.
  • Contact your Employee Assistance Program at work. If you’re employed, many organizations offer confidential counseling resources as a standard benefit for its members in need.
  • Call 211 (NOT 911). This free service connects callers to confidential mental health support, and also serves as a suicide hotline for those requiring urgent help.
  • Talk with your primary care provider. Your physician can connect you to services to fit what you need.
  • Schedule an appointment with a counselor or psychiatrist. USF Health has several caring, qualified psychiatrists who are accepting new patients. Contact the patient access line at 813-974-2201 to book your appointment.

You may watch the recording of “Living Well in the Age of COVID-19” online by visiting