How to Cope With the Holidays During A Pandemic
How to Cope With the Holidays During A Pandemic
The holidays are a notoriously stressful time but this year the demands of past years are being replaced with a different kind of angst. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise and large family gatherings are being largely discouraged, the holiday season is filled with more uncertainty, fear, grief, loneliness, and anxiety than, many would say, ever before. How can you make the most of these holidays during a pandemic?
You might be feeling like all you want to do is sleep through the next few months, skip over the holidays altogether. Or, maybe you are desperate to find a way to still make things special, memorable, and joyous. If you find yourself struggling, what are some ways you can cope? How can you get through this difficult time?
Accept Things for What They Are
Times are hard and you might just want to ignore reality and pretend like things are the same as always but, unfortunately, reality tends to catch up with us. Instead of trying to run away from things, work on accepting them.
Allow yourself to sit with your uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Absorb them. Let yourself grieve time lost with family and friends, gatherings that are no longer, loss of loved ones. Take note of your anxious feelings, accept the fear of the unknown. Make time to meet with a therapist or counselor to help process all of your emotions. Then, make a plan to move forward.
Embrace This Time, Realistically
Are there traditions you are still able to follow? Is there a new way to bring family and friend connections into your Virginia home? Determine some of the realistic and safe ways you can still celebrate with those you love. For example, you and loved ones can prepare food and then place a device at the table and Zoom others into the meal. You can make plans to meet neighbors outside for dessert. You can leave prepared dishes at each other’s doorsteps.
Ornament making, gift-giving, cookie baking, decorating can all still happen. Use these holidays during a pandemic to get closer to those in your immediate household. Start new traditions. Maybe instead of going to church on Christmas Eve or attending an annual holiday party, have a game and movie night in cozy PJs. This might be the year where you can finally relax instead of running around with overflowing to-do lists.
Set Guidelines for Gatherings with Compassion
We are all in this storm together but that doesn’t mean we are all navigating it the same. If your family and friends are still planning in-person celebrations and you are not comfortable joining them, that’s ok. But, rather than facing the situation with judgment or anger, try approaching it with empathy and compassion. Everyone is dealing with things in their way. Try to understand where they are coming from—the emotions and underlying values that are driving their decisions. You don’t have to agree but you don’t want to muddy waters for the future.
We all have different perspectives and core values when it comes to approaching holidays during a pandemic. You can choose to avoid any in-person gatherings or keep things small. You need to assess what is safest for your family. Be in touch with your values. What means the most to you? Identify the areas you aren’t going to compromise and stay true to yourself.
Talk about your plans and thoughts early on. Don’t wait until the week before Thanksgiving to tell your family you are no longer hosting. Establish boundaries. You don’t need to host or attend any gatherings in which you are uncomfortable. None of us have lived through a global pandemic, Coronavirus (Covid-19), before. Give yourself grace.
Face Your Grief
We can grieve many different things. If you have lost a loved one, consider a way to honor their memory during this holiday season. Maybe that means cooking a favorite meal, using a recipe of theirs, listening to a song, watching a movie, doing something that reminds you of him/her/they.
If you are grieving other things, such as missed time with family, a lost job/business, or home. Allow yourself to feel that pain and then come up with a way to honor those losses. Maybe it is making plans for a holiday gathering or vacation once the pandemic has calmed or creating new memories in a new home.
Look Forward to the Future
Having something to look forward to can make everyone feel better. Maybe take the money you saved on a large holiday party and put it towards a future vacation. Make plans to celebrate with family and friends once things with the Coronavirus have subsided. Start saving for the home of your dreams.
Focus on positive changes you can make in the coming weeks—maybe it is starting a new exercise or eating program. Maybe it is practicing more self-care. Set positive, attainable goals for yourself.
Get Help When You Need it
If you are struggling with how to get through the holidays during a pandemic, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional. At Whole Journey, our therapists and wellness professionals are here for you. Online counseling and therapy can help give you the tools you need to cope during this challenging time and beyond.
Ready to begin counseling in Virginia?
Whole Journey works with clients throughout the state of Virginia via our online and telehealth counseling platforms. We see clients in-person at our Chesapeake office. Our counselors are professionally trained in helping people to live healthier, happier lives. We want to see you thrive. Call our office at 757-296-0800 to schedule an appointment.