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UW Health psychologist explains importance of safeguarding mental health this – Health News Today

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – Being alone for the holidays is a reality more Americans are facing this year amid the pandemic. Health experts say that is why it is extra important this season to focus on mental health.

Dr. Shilagh Mirgain, a UW Health distinguished psychologist, recommends if you live by yourself, prioritize social connection in safe ways.

“It’s important to prioritize and nurture those relationships. Really be intentional and reach out to those people you care about, even someone you haven’t heard from in a while to wish them happy holidays,” Mirgain said.

She said research shows when loneliness and isolation persist, it can exacerbate mental health issues and even manifest as a physical illness.

“We are in month nine of the pandemic. We have been asked to live in ways that are unprecedented and unusual, and many people, especially if they are single and living alone, are really feeling feelings of isolation,” she said.

She recommends prioritizing self-care and emotional fitness as the year comes to a close by sleeping well, exercising and eating healthy foods. Another tip she offered is to practice active solitude by taking the time alone to deepen your connection to yourself and to reflect.

Mirgain said always know people are not alone, and to reach out to professional help if you need it.

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