18 December 2020 15:57
Decorating our homes, making some of our favourite holiday dishes and spending time with family and friends are only some of the things that we enjoy and look forward to. However, this year we must recognize that the holidays are probably not going to be the same. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many quick and drastic changes to our everyday lives.
But even though these were changes we didn't want, they needn't necessarily be wholly negative. In order to help you keep your spirits up and prepare for the upcoming holidays, we are bringing you the latest in our advice on how to make the upcoming holidays as jolly and stress-free as possible.
Start by accepting the reality that this year is likely going to look different from past years. Allow yourself to acknowledge that, while this season may not look the way you hoped it would, there is still room for joy. Accepting this fact will allow you to end the mourning of what is lost and start thinking of new and exciting things you can do for the holidays.
Try to find ways to still do these things if possible or find alternative ways if regular ones are not an option. For example, if you can’t have a family gathering this year, talk to your family members or friends and see if they would be willing to have Christmas dinner over video. If you love baking, find new recipes or new twists on old ones and share your discoveries with others online or in your neighbourhood. Decorate your home in new ways.
Seek out volunteering opportunities for people in need or perhaps animal shelter. This is a chance to get creative and the possibilities are endless. Simply find something that you enjoy and allow yourself to be creative with the process.
For most people, holidays are more stressful than other times of the year. There are many things you want and have to do, so don’t let the stress get the best of you. Plan ahead, make schedules and find a little time in each day to do something that makes you happy. It doesn’t have to be a big thing every day. One day you might meditate or have a bubble bath or read a book you’ve been wanting to read or catch up with friends. But other times it could be as simple as making yourself a cup of your favourite tea and enjoy the smell of cinnamon throughout the house.
Depending on the local conditions where you are, some families may need to be extra cautious and decide that this year, a big family gathering for the holidays is simply not possible. We, of course, recommend sticking to your local guidelines, but think carefully and decide for yourself what feels good for you within these - for instance, even if your entire family is gathering, but this is something you are not comfortable with, you have the right to decline the invitation this year. Explain your absence patiently, let them know you still love and appreciate them and you will be sad to miss the dinner this year but it is simply your decision. Suggest alternative ways of communicating (have a video call or send each other messages and share your experiences).
There are probably some holiday traditions that you won’t be able to realize this year. Given that these are special (and hopefully also temporary) circumstances, it couldn’t hurt to change the rules just a bit to try and make the holidays more enjoyable for yourself.
For example, perhaps there is a rule in your house that nobody is allowed to be on their phone during meals or that children have a limited screen time. But, for Christmas Eve, make an exception to this rule and turn on a camera so that your kids can see and talk to their grandparents or relatives.
If you have social media accounts, you probably enjoy seeing holiday-related things, such as decoration ideas, Christmas cookie recipes etc. But for many, this can also be a source of anxiety. Perhaps you have decided that this year you’ll stay safe and not travel anywhere, as you usually do for the holidays, but then you see somebody’s picture on Instagram of a wonderful cabin in the mountains, a fire lit in the fireplace and snow outside. It's nearly impossible to avoid seeing such things if you are on social media, but what you can try to do is to not compare yourself to others - especially the overtly stylised content we see online.
Some of the things you see might be simple exaggerated commercials and others might be from real life, and they might both look equally tempting to someone who is missing out on those things this year. But just try to remember why you made your decision to spend the holidays in the way you did. Focus instead on everything you have and how you have managed to make it work in the maelstrom that is this year.
Social support is greatly both beneficial and vital for all individuals, but particularly in times like these. Most people see the holidays as the time of the year to be with loved ones. Try to stay connected with those individuals, whether they are family, a partner, your friends, work colleagues etc.
But if you feel particularly overwhelmed and unable to cope during holidays even when you’re surrounded by those closest to you, you might want to consider seeking professional help. A trained psychologist or psychotherapist can help you deal with the holiday stress and sort through some of the difficult emotions you might be feeling. It need not necessarily be a big, underlying issue, it could be just a temporary situation. A dedicated professional can often give you the tailored support you need and help enjoy your favourite time of the year without the need for so much stress and worry.