Each year, event planning, gift shopping, and seeing extended family brings its own stressors and frustrations, but it’s all worth it when we get to spend time with our loved ones and take time off of work to rest at home. With most of us spending the majority of this year at home anyways and unable to see family, how will we protect our peace of mind and manage our mental health with the unfamiliar challenges of this year? 

Keep Your Traditions

Traditions may seem silly to a lot of people, but they are more important than you may think at first glance. Humans, as a diverse and cultural species, have been ritualizing important moments for centuries. It’s in our nature! Just because your traditions can’t be done with the people they are normally with, doesn’t mean you can't practice them. Cooking a staple dish, cookies, or performing an activity you normally do with others can still bring you a sense of comfort, even if you don’t get to be around your loved ones. 

You may consider joining your loved ones for these traditions virtually, or practice them on your own. 

Give to Others

Since we aren’t having our usual gift-giving gatherings, giving to others may slip your mind or feel unimportant. You can still give gifts. There may be people this year who really showed up for you that you haven’t gotten a gift for in the past. Maybe there’s someone you know who has had an especially hard year. Perhaps this year brought someone closer to the front of your mind that you don’t normally connect with. Consider giving to these people in addition to or in place of your normal round of gift-giving. 

This year has been difficult for many and brought people together in a way that is difficult to put into words. If gift giving doesn’t feel right for some of these, think about sending a card. You might be surprised how much it means to someone just to hear that you’re thinking of them. 

Manage Expectations

Before the holidays actually begin, think about your plan for how you’ll be spending your time. If you are often out and about, consider how you will adapt if you need to quarantine during your family’s intimate gathering. How would that make you feel? What can you do to make sure you still feel included? Should you orient yourself or your family members with Skype or Zoom beforehand? What if another family member gets exposed and can no longer make the gathering? How can you include them virtually or contact-free?

Although you may already have a plan in place for how you’ll spend your holidays, make sure you exercise your mind to other possibilities and how you will make those work in a way that makes you happy. 

Take Time for Yourself

It’s easy during the holidays to spend a lot of time interacting with and helping others, which is one of the greatest parts about this time of year. Don’t let that stand in the way of taking time to address your own needs. These times are tough and unprecedented. Let yourself adjust at your own pace. Try meditation, yoga, read a book you know you love, watch a comforting movie, or go for a walk. Give yourself space. 

 

Staying in touch with your feelings during this year’s holiday season will be important. Be prepared for plans to change, identify ways you can give yourself comfort, and consider how you can help others. All of these will contribute to a holiday season that is most enjoyable and safe for you and your loved ones.