Walking in a COVID Wonderland: Holidays in a Pandemic
The holidays always tend to bring a special kind of stress into our lives: Increased time with family members, seeing people you haven’t seen in a while, hosting parties and dinners, making sure you’ve budgeted enough for gifts – the list goes on and on. This year has thrown another factor into the mix – COVID. We have endured quarantine and isolating ourselves from our loved ones all year, which has taken a toll on a lot of us and our mental health. Needing that time with friends and family, connecting with others, is part of being human. With new COVID restrictions instructing us not to gather with our loved ones, many are feeling frustrated and lonely and not sure how to handle it. Today, we’ll explore different ways to manage our mental health during the 2020 holidays.
Acknowledge the sense of loss.
This year has been a grieving process – having to accept that our plans have been changed, losing jobs, loved ones, and our sense of normalcy. Adjusting to the “new normal” we find ourselves in is extremely difficult, especially around the holidays. While the holidays are mainly about being thankful and celebrating, this can also be a really hard time of year, even during normal circumstances. If you’re missing a loved one, think of ways to honor them during your festivities. If you’ve lost a job or had to drop out of school, take the time to recognize the challenges that came with that(1). It’s normal to feel a sense of loss and allowing yourself the time and space to process it can be healing.
Learn to adapt.
Although this holiday season looks and feels much different than we’re used to, the ability to make the most of it will help your mood from taking a dip during this time. Can’t see your family in person? Have a Thanksgiving dinner over Zoom, or have a virtual family game night. Make new memories and traditions with your immediate family. Have a virtual ugly Christmas sweater party with your friends. The possibilities are endless, it just requires some creativity and thinking outside the box – which we’ve all had experience with this year!
Take time for yourself.
Making all these adjustments can be incredibly stressful. It’s important to check in with yourself and gauge how you’re doing. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, it’s important to use some stress-relieving coping skills to help take care of yourself. Taking a walk, listening to calming music, reading a book – doing any of these activities for only 15 minutes a day can really make a difference in your overall well being.
Feeling extra stressed during the holidays? Our clinicians at Calm Mind Counseling Center can help! Don’t be afraid to reach out – this year has been difficult for us all.
Mental Health America. “Preparing for the Holidays during COVID-19”. https://mhanational.org/preparing-holidays-during-covid-19