This holiday season is bringing about a lot of disappointment to families in the U.S. due to COVID. Back to back shutdowns, it feels like we will not be able to get back to normal anytime soon. The pandemic has profoundly disrupted your life and routine, and for many of us the holidays are feeling different this year.
Your normal for the holiday season could look like meeting up with many family members to rejoice, celebrate, and spend quality time with. This could mean families merging together with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents as an annual visit.
Possibly the holiday season typically looked like a gathering of friends coming together from across the country to celebrate your everlasting friendship and appreciation for each other during the holiday season.
Regardless of your holiday normals, things will be different this time around.
We have the amazing ability to adapt to our surroundings, circumstances, and make the best out of them. With the current climate of needing to stay home, limit outdoor activities, and wear face coverings as soon as you step out of your house, it can be hard to fantasize a holiday season without the connecting, bonding, and hugging in person.
Perhaps your holidays during COVID look like this…
You and your family have planned to get together: you and your family, your siblings family, and your parents altogether as one. You made this plan to get a hotel together and explore the outside city around it. This city is great during the winter months, with minimal snow, color changing leaves, and great restaurants that provide warmth and comfort during those chilly nights.
It would’ve been a pivotal moment in your child’s lives, your life, and families lives as you have never ventured out to this area and were so looking forward to making the best memories possible here, with all of these ideas and occasions planned out.
Unfortunately, due to COVID, your parents are deemed high risk individuals and want to play it safe by not traveling outside of their home this holiday season. Luckily, they have up to date technology and are able to hold video chats whenever possible.
This is very disappointing for you. You were anticipating getting together with your loved ones, and after all this time spent quarantining and social distancing, you are still unable to do so.
You are rightfully frustrated with the situation at hand and wish it were different. It can be hard to accept that the holidays will be different this year, and that some changes will need to be made. This may have been the last year that your elderly parents could travel due to health complications, and then, due to harsh working conditions, you’re unsure if you’d have the financial funds to plan this again next year.
The truth is, a lot of people are equally as unhappy and disappointed as you are.
When we don’t try to find the positive in the dark hole, we will end up ruminating in our own frustration and depression. We will feel lonely, angry that we are feeling lonely, and fed up with this whole situation at hand as a whole. We may feel so stressful that we are finding things to blame it on, rather than trying to switch up our perspective.
When we do change our perspective and outlook on the situation, we can find alternatives to in-person gatherings that will still satisfy our desire for bonding and connecting with each other from a distance.
Not only does allowing ourselves to get frustrated with the present situation delay us from being free from those worries to pursue other goals, but we are able to have more understanding and control over ourselves and our emotions.
How can we get through the holidays during COVID and still feel like we were able to bond and connect with each other? Plan in advance how you want to spend your time, who you want to connect with, and if technology/devices could help make connections easier.
How to get through the holidays during COVID: Reach Out to Others
Although it’s not as attractive as being able to do things together in person, you can still video chat throughout certain times of the day, such as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These times of the day can be especially lonely for you or your loved ones, as having company during a meal is comforting.
Try to interact with others when you are feeling isolated. Loved ones are just a text, phone call, or video call away. Schedule out good times to meet with someone to rehash your day or to go over your intentions for the day.
Communicate with each other to see how the other is feeling or coping that day, offer advice and solace with them, and see how you can help one another in this time. That can be through scheduled talks, check ins, or sending simple text messages throughout the day to remind you that things are going to get better.
During online therapy at Simi Psychological Group we work with you to support you in connecting with your loved ones during difficult times.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Validate yourself that yes, this holiday season will be harder than usual. It may be draining and leave you feeling hollow and unfulfilled. You are right and worthy to feel down, frustrated, and wanting more out of the holidays.
Evaluate what emotions you are feeling and what comes up for you. Are you feeling lonely, yearning to be around the people you love? Or are you feeling angry, fed up with shut downs, wanting to demand change?
You have the power to channel this energy into something positive where you can express these emotions through more positive means. This could be painting out your emotions using strong colors, representing a dark hole or a vivid display of chaos and anger released onto your palette.
Journaling is an effective way to get your feelings out without feeling that you need to hold back on expressing yourself. You can get a specific journal just for times where you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed to write on the following topics:
What Emotions Do I Feel?
Can I Do Something About It Now?
How Can I Calm Down?
This way, you have a few topics to answer and in the process, may be able to self reflect on ways to calm down and if you really can do something. If writing isn’t your preferred way to communicate, get on your computer and type until your fingers get sore. Reviewing what you’ve written is a great way to point out a thought that may be illogical that you can then reassure yourself with.
Cry if you need to, as crying is a great way to release built up stress and tension. You are not alone in feeling strongly about the major differences of the holidays this year compared to last year. Remind yourself that you are strong, you are right, and you can get through this hard time.
In anxiety therapy in Los Angeles, we work with you to break down your anxiety triggers and provide you with the skills and resources to effectively self-regulate yourself.
How to get through the holidays during COVID: Stick to a budget
This holiday season, you definitely don’t need to break the bank in order to give someone presents. With COVID shutting down businesses and unemployment rates skyrocketing, it may be that you struggled with your business or even lost your job, leaving you feeling more unheard and helpless.
These are hard times, and the last thing you really want to do is spend your money on things you or others may not need.
It’s always nice to give presents, especially when they’re for people you love and you’re excited for them to have it. Make sure to stick to a budget this holiday season to ensure that you have savings for unpredictable situations.
Although we can feel unproductive during social distancing, we can use our time to create personalized gifts or cards to send out to family and friends. Creating something personal for people you care for is a great coping mechanism and allows you to be creative and explore your inner artist.
DIY letters or gifts such as crafts made with common household items is also a great way to bond and spend time with your family. These gifts would truly touch someone’s heart to know of the effort and time you spend into building it, and is a low cost way to remind someone you miss them.
Acquire Healthy Habits
Checking in with yourself and your mental health should be a top priority during this time. Although it may not seem like a big stressor, little things throughout the day may pop up and unconsciously add to your stress levels.
Maybe when you wake up at 8:00am, you are woken too abruptly by your alarm clock, leaving you feeling annoyed. You roll over and snooze, only to continue waking up irritated by the sound. You go to make coffee, and stub your toe on the way in the kitchen. Your irritation notches up a level.
Then, you have to hold video chat meetings with work and to assist with your children. You have difficulties working the computer, and you continue to feel stress.
When we feel stress build up, it’s important to tackle it head on in order to prevent a build up which will lead to an eruption. Little things throughout the day can aid your frustration and increase anxiety, so it’s important to properly address the feelings you have.
If you feel stress or anxiety rising, take a break from your activity or task at hand. This can look like stepping away for a few minutes to practice breathing exercises, grabbing a cold glass of water, or taking a mini walk to regulate your nervous system.
Keeping a journal to document your anxiety or stress is also a smart way to be able to identify it for next time and what coping mechanisms you can use to inhibit any negative thoughts or feelings.
Take care of yourself, your mindset, and your body by working to eliminate negative feelings. Make sure to remain eating a balanced diet, stay hydrated, and release tension through physical exercise.
How to get through the holidays during COVID: Seek Professional Help
Providing yourself with self care and setting boundaries for yourself is easier said than done. Rather than shaming yourself or feeling guilty, consider reaching out for professional help.
Most places are conducting online therapy sessions to ensure the safety of you and the clinician themselves. Most services are similar to Zoom, where you just need to click a link to get started on your video session.
Benefits of holding online therapy sessions include being able to do it from the comfort of your home, not needing to commute through traffic or find parking, and it is just as beneficial and effective as in-person therapy.
Our psychotherapists in Simi Valley, Ca are dedicated to providing you with the most honest, compassionate, and effective therapy.
Watch our Youtube video on One Key to Enjoying the Holidays: Embracing Imperfections here
At our mental health practice in Simi Valley, Ca we offer Child therapy and family counseling, Teen therapy, Anxiety Treatment, Depression Therapy, Marriage Counseling, and Neuropsychological Testing.