Holidays in the Time of Covid-19

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For some, the holiday season is a joy-filled time of family gatherings, savory meals, and gifts galore, but for others, the holidays can be a time of stress, loneliness, and depression. With Covid-19 cases continuing to surge in many places, the holiday blues may affect even more people than usual this year. The Jacksonville Center for Counseling wanted to share some tips for coping with Covid-19 this holiday season.

Sad-faced dog wearing Christmas sweater sitting by a Christmas tree.

Sad-faced dog wearing Christmas sweater sitting by a Christmas tree.

Communication is Key

The best way to avoid misunderstandings or disappointment is by communicating clearly. With the holidays just around the corner, communicate with your loved ones about Covid-19 and the effect it might have on your plans. Discuss the health risks associated with gatherings and/or travel and openly discuss your feelings about alternative ways to celebrate.

The safest way to travel is by car with passengers limited to the same household, and the safest way to gather is outdoors. Of course, these options may not be possible for everyone, especially in areas where winter prevents comfortable outdoor celebrations.

Communicate your specific risks and ways to minimize the risks honestly with your friends and loved ones. If you live in other states or cities, it may be necessary to try a virtual celebration or postpone gatherings.

Be Realistic with Expectations

Recognize that the holidays will likely be different this year and adjust your expectations. Gatherings and travel may not be the only aspects of the holidays affected by Covid-19. Many people have also faced increased financial difficulty due to the pandemic.

Instead of trying to maintain normal holiday celebrations and gift-giving, be honest with yourself and others. Instead of shopping and giving gifts in person, you may need to eliminate gifts, shop online, and have gifts delivered or change the type of gifts you give to avoid added financial hardship.

By being honest ahead of time, you will greatly reduce unnecessary stress and likely discover that many other people are experiencing the same difficulties and concerns.

Be Kind to Others and Yourself

It is incredibly important to be kind to yourself and others, especially in times like these. You, the people you know and love, and strangers are all experiencing additional stress and uncertainty this holiday season.

Avoid comparing this holiday to the holidays of the past. Try to live in the moment and come up with creative ways to bring yourself and others some holiday cheer. Make time for yourself to do things you find relaxing. Reach out to friends and relatives, even if it is just a phone call, to prevent yourself and others from feeling isolated and lonely.

If you are feeling lonely and uncertain about how to find people to connect with during this pandemic, there are online resources to help you connect with others. There are virtual volunteer opportunities, book clubs, meet-ups for groups of individuals with common interests, and mental health hotlines and websites for 24/7 support.

Reach out for Help

Sometimes the blues are heavy, and the burden is too great to lift on your own. If you are feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed, know that you are not alone. The holidays can be accompanied by these feelings, and Covid-19 has intensified these feelings for many people.

Although we may sometimes prefer to handle things on our own or only discuss these feelings with close friends or loved ones, a mental health professional can give you additional insight that is free from judgment and designed to provide ways to prevent these feelings from becoming overwhelming.

If you are feeling overwhelmed about anything at all, don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced mental health professional at the Jacksonville Center for Counseling.