Information You Need: Reimagining the Holidays

Holidays are challenging any year, but this year they may be more difficult than usual. You may feel stress around modifying holiday traditions for COVID-19 safety, you may be struggling financially due to months of unemployment and insecurity, you or someone you know may be sick or recovering from COVID-19, or maybe you are even mourning the loss of a loved one this year. It is entirely valid to feel overwhelmed or simply uncertain as we head into the holidays. 

This year the holidays are more high risk than usual, and many people will be tempted to bend or break their safety rules in favor of seeing loved ones and participating in their “usual” holiday routines. This is your opportunity to make another push toward flattening the (post-holiday) curve and protecting yourself and the people you love. Instead of focusing on what you “can’t” do right now, try to see the holidays as a time to get back to basics and reconnect-with the people we love and ourselves. It may look different this year, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

It’s the season for giving, but remember to:

Give to yourself

  • Take time for yourself, respect your limits mentally and physically and listen to the cues your body is giving you. Are you feeling excessively tired? Can’t sleep? Always hungry? Nausea? Headache? Tight in the chest? Sad? These are signs that shouldn’t be ignored. They may mean that you need to block off time to do nothing but nap, go for a walk, read, or take a bath. Or, they may mean that you should talk to your primary care provider. Or both!  

Give love

  • Talk to your loved ones about what is important to them this year. It’s been a different year, so it’s reasonable to think that people’s needs and wishes around the holidays may be different, too. Giving love often comes in the form of time: spend time playing with your kids, even though there is decorating or cleaning to do; telephone or video call a loved one and just spend time talking; or take time to make or fix something as a gift or thoughtful gesture. 

Give patience

  • Your loved ones may have different ideas about what the holidays should look like, and how to celebrate them during an on-going pandemic. You may need to have complex conversations to navigate these issues. Be patient with yourself if you feel frustration, and be patient with your loved ones who are navigating these same feelings as best as they can. 

It may be the season to get things, too, but remember to also: 

Get creative

  • Holiday traditions are wonderful, because they give us a sense of familiarity, comfort, and continuity. Look at your own holiday traditions and dig deep to find out what it is about that tradition that is the most important part, then get creative to find a way to keep that feeling even if the activity looks different. 
    • For example: Decorating a Christmas tree. Is it taking time with family to do this activity that is important? Is it having a visual reminder of the holiday? Find ways to address that need, but alter the activity. Maybe the tree is smaller than usual, or maybe you decorate cookies for a family activity instead. 

Get cozy

  • Part of living in a pandemic is that traveling and socializing are much more challenging and risky. This year is a great opportunity to nestle in and create a welcoming, warm, and comfortable space in your home. After all, if you’re going to be mostly at home this year, make that home as cozy as possible and a joy to be in. 

Get help

  • Any day of the year, connection is a critical part of wellbeing. Getting help and staying connected can look like a lot of things: 
    • Seeing your primary care provider if you consistently feel unwell, sad, or anxious. 
    • Talking to a friend or mental health provider to express your thoughts and feelings in a safe place.
    • Asking your loved ones about what they need or want before gift-buying. 
    • Involving your loved ones in creating new traditions and reimagining the holiday experience.

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