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Holiday Stress Takes a Complicated Twist During COVID-19

December 02, 2020

By Peter DeRosa
Natchaug Hospital Lead Primary Therapist
Care Plus, Groton

Holidays can be stressful enough, so adding a global pandemic on top of them makes this holiday season extra challenging.

With an increase in COVID-19 cases, travel restrictions, business closures and limits on gatherings, it will be hard to maintain our typical holiday traditions.

The fact is, we have never seen anything like this. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions to help make this season a little less stressful:

  • Prepare: Don’t wait until the last minute to do your holiday shopping and cooking.
  • Set limits: Make a budget for gift-buying or consider making a homemade gift. Propose a family gift exchange, such as a Secret Santa, rather than buying a gift for everyone.
  • Self-care: It is important to make time for yourself. Take a break, even if it is just for a few minutes. Go for a walk, listen to music or read. Don’t feel obligated to attend every event and gathering.
  • Be realistic: It’s important to remember that this holiday season may not be what you imagined. Recommended restrictions might limit typical holiday traditions, including gatherings, but get creative and use technology to host events virtually. Remember to accept what you cannot control and focus on what you can.
  • Set expectations:  If you do not get along with your family members 364 days of the year, do not expect to get along with them on the 365th day. Set realistic goals and limit the time you spend with people who make you uncomfortable. The holidays will not change a person, so try to accept family members for who they are.
  • Take control: Focus on what you can control so that holidays are not something you dread. It is important to recognize your triggers and prepare for them. Use coping skills, eat healthily, get plenty of rest, exercise and limit alcohol consumption.

This year has been difficult as we have been presented with unique challenges. But the holidays should be enjoyed. Whether you Zoom with family or share an intimate meal with your household, it is still possible to create lasting memories with those we love. Try to remember all that you are grateful for and that brighter days are ahead.