Four tips for preparing for the holiday season in the time of COVID
This pandemic may change how we experience the holiday season. Many of us may be feeling more stressed, down, vulnerable, unsure of what to expect or how to approach this period. There could still be ways of preserving the things that matter most to you, it may just look different this time.
These 4 tips can help you better prepare for what could come:
- Allow yourself to grieve what you have lost, are missing or wish you had
Restrictions on gatherings, border closures and social distancing requirements mean that we won’t have the same freedoms as previous years. You may be separated from loved ones, long for the usual celebrations, wish you could travel or feel more lonely during a time when you hoped for more togetherness. These are all very natural reactions. It’s ok to be sad, without dismissing it as trivial or weak. Grieving for someone or something is often a sign that it is important or meaningful to us.
- Be flexible and creative with making the holiday season what you want it to be
If you have usual traditions or celebrations that won’t be the same this year, it can be difficult to accept this and adjust your expectations. Think about which aspects of the holiday season are most valuable and significant to you, how you can retain these and mark occasions in a COVID safe way. For example, it may mean splitting larger gatherings into smaller ones, changing locations or activities, staying connected to family and friends with technology, choosing local destinations or finding new ways to spend significant days.
- Use assertive communication while planning ahead
You may have certain hopes for the holiday season. Let others know what they are, as they can’t read your mind. Conversely, don’t assume you know what others are thinking, so ask. Different people have different preferences and comfort levels about what they are (and aren’t) willing to do during this pandemic. Be willing to express yours, hear others out and negotiate ahead of time. Starting these conversations early will reduce the stress that comes with last minute preparations, including relationship conflict and misunderstandings that can also arise without adequate planning.
- Look after yourself physically and mentally
The holiday season can often bring up mixed emotions anyway, and you may find that COVID related changes and pressures can heighten emotions even more. There are some very practical things you can do to help keep your mood and stress levels at bay. The mind and body are very closely connected. You will more likely cope better when you invest in getting good sleep, healthy eating, exercise, relaxation, attend to physical health issues and not consume too much alcohol. Practicing self care is also important after a year of COVID imposed challenges for each of us.
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