‘Tis the season to be jolly, but many of us may be feeling grinchy this year. With the pandemic still a looming threat to our health and happiness, the economy still a mess, and so many of our favorite seasonal activities canceled, getting into the holiday spirit can be challenging.
Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of tips and strategies to help you keep the cheer in the holidays this year, even during COVID-19.
Have your holiday plans been canceled because of a last-minute quarantine?
Karestan Koenen, a professor of psychiatric epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, suggests hosting a virtual get-together with your family and friends instead of the in-person gathering you’d planned. Share a menu, create a program that can include binge-watching the best holiday movies together or playing virtual holiday games, and be sure to mail out your gifts with enough time to reach your loved ones by Christmas.
Give of your time
The holidays will have an extra measure of loneliness for the elderly this year. Take the time to reach out to an elderly relative, neighbor or friend who is stuck inside, and share some holiday cheer. If the elderly acquaintance is tech-savvy, jump on a video call together. Volunteer or donate to a local non-profit. Giving to others will make your own holiday a little bit brighter.
Dr. Andrea K. Tesher PsyD, of Ridgewood, N.J., urges people to keep an open mind when it comes to their holiday plans this year. It’s best to expect the unexpected, she says, adding, to go with the flow, even as holiday plans change from Plan A to Plan B, and then to Plan C. Being mentally prepared for changes will make them easier to handle.
It’s hard not to feel down when thinking about the cold, dark winter ahead — one that will harsher this year with our “new normal.” Keeping a positive outlook goes a long way toward making this year’s holiday season easier to handle, Koenen says. Remember that we know a lot more about the virus now than we knew in the spring and that a vaccine may soon be a reality.
Koenen suggests squeezing in a few minutes for self-care each day during the hectic holidays. Take a quick walk around the block, indulge in a hot bath with only your favorite scented candles for company or schedule in a timeout from your phone each evening. These slices of alone time can be crucial to your mental health.
Make self-care a priority, Tesher says stressing the importance of tending to your physical needs during times of high stress. Exercising regularly, eating well and getting sufficient sleep will help boost your psychological wellness.
2020 was the year we all learned to revise and reframe our realities. We discovered that we could get by without our weekly manicures, survive months without the gym and attend all kinds of social events, from weddings to graduations to birthday parties, while safe at home.
As we draw the curtains on a year that will forever be marked by face masks and uncertainty, let’s carry our new attitude toward all things material. We can stand to trim our gift lists this year, to forego the annual gathering with the entire extended family and to dine in throughout the holidays. Lowering the bar will help us keep the cheer in the holidays this year and save us money at the same time.
The 2020 holiday season will likely follow the pattern of the entire year. We will celebrate differently. There may be fewer gifts and excursions and no crowded parties; however, by using the tips outlined above, you can keep the holidays cheerful this year no matter what happens.