By Dan Priore, Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Many celebrations, traditions and happy moments were lost throughout 2020. One of the year’s greatest difficulties has been trying to stay safe while ensuring no one we love feels alone.
Our resiliency this year in the face of tough choices now comes into play again for the holidays.
Stacey Martin, LSW and a pediatric counselor at Anchorpoint, says the first step in coping with this unprecedented holiday season is to assess how you feel.
“It is understandable to be upset and frustrated, but try to express these feelings in a healthy manner,” Martin says. “Reach out to trusted sources to talk to and don’t feel like you need to force happiness.”
Acknowledging feelings extends to others as well. Martin advises “putting down your armor” because chances are other family members are just as tense and sad. Avoiding arguments with them will prevent everyone’s stress from getting worse.
“Coping stems from learning how to respond to feeling overwhelmed,” Martin says. “Start new traditions, take brisk walks, exercise, find hobbies that make you happy. If you are often around kids, don’t forget they hear and see you.”
If you are limiting in-person gatherings to just current household members, there are many ways to connect with loved ones who you are not physically spending time with. Virtual get-togethers will be a popular and convenient option, but traditional ways of sharing affection work too. For example, older adults especially feel more socially connected when receiving Christmas cards.
Martin suggests other alternatives such as socially distanced food exchanges, baking cookies over Zoom and mailing surprise White Elephant gifts to friends and family.
In the end, Martin recommends staying realistic – COVID is still a risk, so it remains crucial to wear a mask, follow CDC guidelines and think about high-risk family members.
“Just like families, holidays and traditions change,” Martin says. “This year is just different.”
No matter what your celebrations look like, it’s important to know there are many ways to make the most of this unprecedented holiday season. Here are some additional suggestions from Psychology Today:
- Embrace the gift-giving season: The spirit of the holiday season can live on when you are considerate of what others are struggling with. Perhaps a warm sweater or scarf can make someone’s outdoor social distancing time a little more enjoyable. A scented candle for home could make being inside all day a bit more relaxing.
- Celebrate life’s miracles: While it is easy to reflect on all the bad 2020 has delivered, instead try to take time to notice small, everyday acts of kindness. Give thanks to our essential workers who, despite all of COVID’s dangers, continued to work in-person each day (grocery store workers, mailpersons, public transportation operators, et al). They all add a sense of normalcy back into our lives.
- Be self-compassionate: “There’s precious little we control in this life, but we can control how we treat ourselves,” Psychology Today blogger Toni Bernhard writes. Being kind to yourself and practicing self-care can add joy to what might feel like a lonely holiday season.
- Use food to come together: Traditions centered around preparing special meals and treats shouldn’t be lost because of the pandemic. For parents with children at home, include them in the cooking and baking process – give them roles, tailored to their age, to make all feel involved and needed.
- Leave your decorations up: The end of the holidays marks a return to our daily lives, and it will inevitably bring the pandemic back to the forefront. For some, packing away decorations and taking down the Christmas tree can be upsetting. There’s no harm in keeping your decorations up, if it’s something you find joy in.
Anchorpoint Counseling Ministry wishes everyone a Blessed Christmas and Joyful New Year. In these challenging times, may your holiday season be full of happiness and peace.
We are here to help during this difficult time. If you or someone you know is struggling with loneliness, anxiety, depression or other struggles, give us a call at (412) 366-1300 or use our Digital Intake Form to schedule an appointment today. Hope is only a phone call away. And to receive more resources like this, you can sign up for our Email Newsletter.