Information You Need: Upcoming Holidays and Stressful Conversations

It has been an incredibly difficult year so far. Many of us are searching for a sense of normalcy in our social lives these days; whether that is creating pandemic pods, partaking in outdoor, physically distanced activities while wearing a cloth face covering, or video calling with our friends and families. Safer, social interaction with reduced COVID-19 risk is imperative to maintaining mental health, although this is not possible or easy for everyone at this point in time. As the holidays approach, many people (including us here at AZCOVIDTXT) are yearning for the yearly traditions of sharing meals and opening presents with our loved ones. 

A few weeks ago we sent out a survey to ask our Arizona community for feedback and to convey their concerns. Many of you shared that you were worried about the holidays and the potential difficult decisions and conversations that may come with them. We know that even with the holidays approaching, the world still finds itself in the midst of a global pandemic. Therefore, there are additional safety considerations to take this year in order to keep our loved ones safe and healthy. Knowing that your usual holiday traditions might look different this year may lead to some very difficult conversations with family and friends. This is why it is important to recognize that all of us will inherently differ in what level of socializing or activities we are comfortable with partaking in. Others may make decisions that differ from yours, which is okay! What is important is that everyone feels comfortable and safe with what activities or socializing they choose to participate in. With all of that said, we have compiled some tips for how to address questions or conversations regarding participating in holiday festivities. 

  1. Think hard about your decision and stick to it!
  • Consider the risk of participating in holiday activities and make a decision that you feel comfortable with. If others try to persuade you into participating in activities that you do not feel safe doing, remain firm (but kind) while reminding them of what you are comfortable with.
  1. Be honest. Share your fears or thoughts about the circumstances
  • It’s helpful to share how you’re feeling and what you’re comfortable with doing. This can give others the opportunity to empathize and understand where you’re coming from.
  • Be open about what your exposures may be. This may alter which family members get together and which members opt not to participate. Check out our previous update for more examples of phrases that you can use to express your point of view in an effective way.
  1. Be empathetic during uncomfortable or difficult discussions
  • Many times these conversations arise out of love and because people want to spend time with one another. This is why it is important to remain kind and respectful during conversations. 
  1. Have conversations early on!
  • You should begin to have conversations surrounding the holidays now in order to make clear plans and ensure safety precautions are taken. 
  1. Acknowledge that it is okay to have differing opinions 
  • Some people are more comfortable with certain activities knowing the risks of COVID-19, while others are not. What is important is that everyone feels safe and is able to choose what activities or social gatherings they would like to participate in.
  1. Sometimes it can be a good idea to avoid statistics or data in your discussions
  • Using complex data or statistics may confuse or overwhelm some people and make it harder for them to understand your point of view.
  1. Bring attention to the bigger picture
  • Remind people that the most important thing is that loved ones stay healthy and safe.
  • While maybe you or the person you are talking to are not necessarily in a high risk group for COVID-19, there are still risks associated with socializing in-person with others (e.g., potentially getting severe complications of the virus, or spreading it to others who are in a high risk group with or without knowing it). 
  • It is also important to consider the capacity of the healthcare system. Keeping ourselves from being sick also means less stress on the healthcare system so that others may get treated for health conditions other than COVID-19. 

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