The holidays are coming up, and many of us have traditions to engage in. No matter what the typical traditions are or what the relationships look like, we generally look forward to some time off or a shared meal.
The holidays are also known to stir up feelings and memories. Pre-pandemic, this was true and now possibly even more so.
Thinking about the travel and lodging, logistics of visiting families and friends, and varying levels of COVID safety precautions can feel very stressful, but we can still find a way to connect!
Here are some ways to cope.
1. Safety First.
Determine your comfortability level and use this as a guide to your decision making. Allow yourself to be flexible based on the variables around you!
2. Talk with your family or friends about their safety and comfort levels.
Decide what modifications may make a visit possible and share your thoughts with them. Ask yourself and them questions that may ease any worries.
Should a car be rented instead of flying? Should there be a limited number of guests and activities prior to the visit? Is it possible to obtain COVID testing and assume a proper quarantine to protect others? If the weather is cooperative, can festive meals be set up outdoors? Perhaps purchase a heat lamp, and use a garage for outdoor purposes.
If you decide that this year may not be possible, acknowledge the loss, but remind one another that this is temporary!
3. If you are staying home and need to limit contact: stay connected, stay connected, stay connected!
Not acknowledging the holiday due to a lack of physical presence and choosing to do nothing may increase feelings of loss. The benefit of modern technology is that we do have some other options. Make sure that you have some teleconference activities on the books so that you have something to look forward to. Although Zoom is not a replacement for an in-person visit, it's the best alternative that we have. Set up a Zoom Thanksgiving or Christmas/ Hanukkah.
4. Try to maintain some of your traditions.
If you are switching to virtual gatherings, be creative, and engage in activity while using teleconference. Zoom with each other during dinner, while lighting Hanukkah candles, or preparing for a Thanksgiving meal. Join a live-stream Christmas service with family or friends members. Set up a holiday gift exchange with friends and co workers and open the gifts online. Have holiday Zoom drinks, maybe play a game together. Enjoyed shared experiences are how we often connect to one another, and we can find a way to replicate that online. There are many ways to adapt traditions instead of dropping them altogether due to the circumstances.
Part of the reason many of us have experienced “Zoom fatigue” is that when we get together in social circumstances, it is often around, "doing something." Typically, we may share a meal, attend a cultural event, a life cycle event, or engage in a physical activity or recreational activity. Apply this concept to your virtual experience.
5. Give yourself permission to mourn the holidays this year.
It’s ok to feel lonely over the holidays as most of us will have to shift our traditions in one way or another. There have been many missed life experiences this year. Keep in mind that this is temporary. There is hope around the corner that more effective treatments and vaccines will decrease the spread by the holiday season next year.
You have made it this far, and you will have many years to come of holidays to spend with loved ones.
For more information, see my video on Instagram.