The holidays can be a hard time for people even at the best of times, but during COVID-19 and with the increased restrictions and social distancing this holiday season is bringing an increased sense of loneliness and loss for many.
Here are some ways to cope, and even to thrive, during this unique 2020 holiday season.
1. Normalize Your Feelings
Remember it is normal to experience loneliness and sadness during the holidays. Take comfort in knowing you are not alone in feeling this way.
Check in with your Mental Health Vital Signs (how are you sleeping, eating, interacting – what is your mood like). For the full checklist contact Alyson Jones & Associates or find the self inventory in the chapter titled Mental Health Vital Signs co-authored by Alyson Jones and Dr. Jackie Fowler in Pandemic! Stories of Purpose, Passion & Power Through This Extraordinary Era.
Reach out to your Mental Health Provider or Physician if you are struggling. There are many services available and will be during the holiday season.
Recognize this time is difficult and this year is unique.
Acknowledge what you are feeling and allow yourself to feel what you feel.
2. Shift Your Mindset
Shift your mindset – be real about what you cannot do – but then shift your focus to what you can do.
This moves us away from helplessness and restores our sense of individual empowerment even in difficult circumstances.
3. Allow for a Stress-free (or low stress) Holiday Season.
Usually, the holiday season is so busy that many of us become overwhelmed and can feel lost in the expectations, events, and stimulation of the season.
This is an opportunity to do things different. To be reflective, to take joy in the small things, and to fully show up in the moments that are right in front of us.
Allow yourself to experience a Christmas where the pressure is off. Enjoy connecting with others when you can but also enjoy the quiet and calm this year is bringing as well.
4. Be Intentional with your Connections.
When connecting with others be as deliberate and intentional as you can. If there is an opportunity for connection make the most of it.
Recognize that your social connections may not feel the same, and they may not feel as good, but even though these connections may feel different they are still of value.
You can connect with others in the grocery store, in a zoom call with your family and friends, or in a virtual meeting with your colleagues. When we connect, even with a stranger, it is good for our brains and sends positive chemicals through our bodies.
Use technology and be creative and adaptive in how your connect.
Ask others how they are doing and be curious and interested in their experiences.
Play games, use conversation starters, or order a meal and enjoy it together.
5. Create Balance during the holidays
Structure your day. We know that people can become depressed and anxious when they have no structure or meaning in their day.
The less you do, the less you feel like doing.
Plan your day, get outside, set some goals to accomplish, and look for gratitude in the small things.
Look for activities that bring pleasure and balance them with activities that bring a sense of accomplishment.
6. It is OK to Distract Yourself at Times
It helps us to partake in enjoyable activities and things that can distract us from some of the sad feelings.
This is best done once you have acknowledged your feelings, felt them, but limited the time you allow yourself to stay in a down place.
Literally put a timer on your down times and when finished go distract yourself with something that is healthy and enjoyable to you. It could be music, baking, taking a walk, doing some art, reading, matching a favourite show, or playing a game.
7. Remind Yourself this Time is Temporary, and it will not always be like this.
Tell yourself there will be a time you look back on this and ask yourself how you would like to tell that story.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources that are available.
Canada Suicide Prevention Helpline (1-833-456-4566)
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (1 800 463-2338)
Crisis Services Canada (1-833-456-4566 or text 45645)
Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)
If you need immediate assistance call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.