The holiday season can elicit different types of feelings in different people. For some, it’s the best time of year and for others, it brings feelings of sadness and loss. The holidays may be especially difficult for people who live alone or far from family, or for those who have lost loved ones. Being with family and seeing old friends may be exciting but it could also bring up memories of disappointments for some. In general, the holiday season is associated with family, celebration, and joy. Most people look forward to this time of the year even if with mixed emotions. No matter what sentiments you have towards the holidays, for the majority of the people around the world, the holiday season will look different this year. Due to the pandemic, things like gathering in large groups and traveling may not be possible. These changes can trigger a range of emotions, from a sense of loss to sadness or anger.
A lot of people have lost loved ones and will be missing their presence during all the holiday festivities, and many have lost their jobs and are dealing with financial stress and uncertainty. The healthcare workers may be required to work overtime and may not be able to take time off around the holidays as they usually would. Young adults that are away for college and who look forward to holidays with their families may have to spend the holidays alone for the first time. These changes can be hard to cope with, especially if holidays are the only time you see some of your loved ones. This holiday season will also be difficult for those dealing with a mental health disorder because of the uncertainty and disruptions to their usual plans. Many people with mental health disorders require consistency to help with their recovery, particularly in times of high stress, like the pandemic and the holiday season. A sudden change in routine and traditions may trigger feelings of extreme loss of control in addition to disappointment.
The holiday season along with excitement brings extreme stress between parties, shopping, family meals, and gift swapping, etc. The usual stress and anxiety caused by the demands of the holidays can be exacerbated by the fear of contracting the virus or passing it on to loved ones. Although the holidays may not be the same this year, there are ways you can still find peace and moments of joy in the midst of all that is going on. Here are some ways to cope with the change in holiday plans during the pandemic:
Identify and Acknowledge your feelings
This year has been difficult for different reasons. Figuring out and managing your emotions about the holidays can minimize your distress. If there is something specific making the holidays hard this year, like losing a loved one, find ways to honor them during the festivities.
Adapt your holiday traditions to the current situation
Since hosting big dinners or parties are no longer possible, consider virtual alternatives to keep in touch with family and friends. Virtually organize fun activities such as baking and decorating cookies or games.
Although it may seem harder to be grateful this year, there is still plenty to appreciate and to be grateful for. Make a list of all the things you are grateful for whether big or small and this will help you put things into perspective.
Hogan, E. (2018, July 08). 7 Ways to Manage Mixed Emotions During the Holidays. Retrieved December 09, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/7-ways-to-manage-mixed-emotions-during-the-holidays/
Preparing for the Holidays During COVID-19. (n.d.). Retrieved December 09, 2020, from https://mhanational.org/preparing-holidays-during-covid-19
Walter, L. (2012, December 06). 10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays. Retrieved December 09, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/life-without-anxiety/201212/10-tips-surviving-the-holidays