As the COVID-19 crisis continues to disrupt almost all aspects of life, it’s clear the holiday season of 2020 is not going to be spared from its impacts. With restrictions and precautions in place that will likely only increase during cooler weather and cold and flu season, many of the much anticipated events, traditions and celebrations of the season are likely to be canceled or look very different. Given that the holiday season is different this year, it’s a good idea to plan ahead to ensure that you’re able to cope with the changes and even enjoy the upcoming season.
For many, the holiday season carries a lot of emotions, events and stress. It’s generally a time that is centered around traditions and lots of time with family and friends. Even under the best circumstances, however, the holiday season can often exacerbate feelings of loss and loneliness.
Knowing the emotions and stress that can come with the holiday season and knowing that this year will look different, it’s important to adjust expectations about the upcoming season and to mentally prepare. The simple act of acknowledging that this season will be different than in years past and will have some unique challenges is an important first step towards coping with these shifts.
Next, it’s helpful to think about some general strategies to stay mentally and physically healthy as we approach the holiday season. Staying healthy will help to ensure that you’re able to cope with and enjoy the season. Here are some things to consider:
Even though the holidays will look different, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate and enjoy them. Instead, this year will be about making changes that will allow for a safe and healthy holiday season. Here are some tips for ensuring that the holiday season is meaningful and joyful.
This year the holidays will be a little simpler, and the truth is that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As you plan for the holidays, simplify your expectations about what they will look like, and don’t worry if you find yourself enjoying this shift. With less events and travel, there is more time to slow down and enjoy some of the simple things of the season like listening to Christmas carols, watching a favorite holiday movie or making a family recipe. This year will be simpler and slower. Expect that and find ways to enjoy it.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of most holiday seasons, there’s little time to stop and reflect. Take the opportunity this season to do some reflection about the holidays and to consider what you value most about the season. Likely, it’s not the events and parties, but instead the people or significance of the holidays.
This year spend time determining what you value most, then find ways to celebrate those things. For example, if it’s the religious significance of the holiday, look for Zoom services or live streams that you can participate in; if it’s getting time with friends and family, find ways to safely connect whether it’s virtually, by writing cards, having an outdoor gathering or making personalized gifts; or, if you enjoy the traditions involved, find ways to still honor them, perhaps through making a traditional meal, putting up decorations or sharing a cherished tradition with a younger generation through a letter, video, picture or even a recipe.
It’s never too late to start a new tradition, and this is the perfect year to do so. A new tradition is a good way to celebrate and to enjoy some of the unique aspects of this holiday season (without comparing it to previous ones). Here are just a few ideas to help get you started:
This season is going to be difficult for everyone in lots of different ways. After all, many people have lost family members and jobs amidst this crisis. As you work to make this a joyful season, find ways that you can give to others. Maybe that means giving to a local foodbank, donating toys to an Angel Tree child, or simply making food for a family nearby that’s overwhelmed with the additional stressors that the pandemic has brought. While traditional volunteer opportunities might not make sense this year, there are still opportunities to give your time, energy and resources. Finding ways to do that will help to brighten the season for others and for you.
Perhaps the key to this holiday season is staying creative. It will look different and will have its challenges, but it can still be a time of celebration, giving thanks and enjoying friends and family. Whether you host a virtual dinner, organize a remote white-elephant exchange or participate in a neighborhood drive-by parade, there are plenty of ways to celebrate. Get creative as the season approaches and enjoy finding different ways to connect and celebrate this year.
The holidays can be a stressful time, and this holiday season promises to bring its own challenges. That said, by shifting your expectations and planning ahead, you can find ways to stay healthy and happy throughout the season. Now is the time to start planning and to find new ways to experience this time of year.
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