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A COVID Christmas: How to Navigate Changes this Holiday Season

Lockdown

Christmas and COVID: these two words have the potential of being an emotional knockout.  This year, Christmas brings a whole sleigh loaded with emotional baggage.  Everyone has been navigating the COVID-19 pandemic differently, depending on many factors; such as what health concerns you may have, the financial situation you might be in, or your overall mental wellness.  One thing that everyone can probably agree on is that this holiday season will bring change and new experiences.  For many, holiday get-togethers have been limited in size, changed to an online format or been cancelled completely.  Families who live in different cities, provinces or countries may not have the ability to reunite which can lead to intensified feelings of isolation.

Outside of the pandemic, however, the holidays are not always happy occasions.  Many people struggle with feelings of loss, stress, depression, anxiety or isolation during this time of year.  The COVID-19 pandemic can add another layer to these challenges.  There is hope though!  Through resiliency and creativity, we can conquer the COVID Christmas. 

Here are a few helpful tips:

Engage in some self-reflection this COVID Christmas

Before the holidays begin, ask yourself if Christmas is often a time of difficulty for you?  Is it often a time of joy?  Explore why you might experience these feelings.  Understanding your past responses to the Holiday season can help you create a plan and reach out for the right supports this year.

Create a plan

Everything has been changing at such a high pace so it is important to try to support yourself by creating a plan about what to expect from the festivities this year.  Review the government restrictions within your area and reflect on your own comfort level.  Reach out to your holiday group and ask what their thoughts and feelings are.  Create a plan and strategize together ahead of time so that everyone is on the same page.

Invest in self-care 

Whether this is buying yourself some extra tea, or booking in some extra time for rest, make self-care a priority.  You can also treat others on your Christmas list to some self-care items and support the wellness of your social group.

You can get creative these Holidays! 

Adjusting our mindsets from our usual Christmas traditions to create new and unique ways of connecting can be empowering.  For example, maybe have a virtual baking contest with your social group, or do a drive-by cookie exchange.  There are many activities we will be missing out on, but this is also an opportunity to create new traditions that can be just as special in light of these changing times.

Give yourself space to be sad

The year has been difficult, it is okay to mourn the changes brought on by COVID-19.  Positive coping skills can include sharing your feelings with close friends or family and practice some self-compassion.  The holiday season may be difficult but change is on the horizon.

References

Canadian Mental Health Association. (2016, February 27) www.cmha.ca/documents/grieving/

Canadian Mental Health Association. (2020). http://www.mentalhealthweek.ca/your-social-distancing-survival-guide/

Government of Canada. (2020, November 23). www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/guidance-documents/plan-safe-holiday-celebration.html