Coping With Covid-19 As The Holiday Season Approaches

During this pandemic, we are faced with a challenging holiday season.  As the numbers of Covid-19 cases are on the rise, we are having to modify our traditions and routines this holiday season.  We need to adhere to the Provincial Health Offices orders, while at the same time maintain a feeling of holiday cheer and tradition.  
Most people have experienced a decline in household income, so we must implement new ideas for giving.  At this time we must realize that adhering to the safety protocols including social isolation is a gift-giving in itself. We are keeping our loved ones and the community safe. Take joy in that.  

Trying to feel the festive cheer during this trying time will be different and we will make adaptations that are necessary for us to enjoy future holidays.  We will need to have a candid discussion with our children about why our celebration this season is different.  Reassure them that although it is difficult to be apart physically from our loved ones, that it is necessary to protect everyone’s health so that we may resume our holiday tradition next year and for future years to come.  
The pressure of this prolonged isolation is taking its toll on our mental, physical, and spiritual health.  It may be hard to distinguish between anxiety, seasonal depression, and situational depression, or just holiday stress.  All tradition is not lost. Technology has allowed us to revamp yet maintain our enjoyable holiday rituals.  We may have watched movies with family –  we still can, at the same time, we can watch together just check-in online.  Whereas once you baked with friends and family, a fun alternative is to set up a facetime or zoom baking session. Many art studios have set up free virtual family paint night. (Check events on social media) We can sing Christmas carols together via zoom or facetime.  We can do group holiday baking via zoom or facetime.  You can screen mirror your phone to be able to see your loved ones on a large screen.  
            Children will need to understand that we may not be able to spend as in the past. Many people are deciding to do most of their holiday shopping online.  It is easy to overspend because of convenience. Make a list, check it twice, and stick to it. If money is tight because many have had a loss of income or a decline in income, it might be a rewarding idea to find a charity and donate to it.  It will feel good to lift someone who needs it.  It’s a good way for kids to develop gratitude in giving.  Children may not understand our modified version of the holiday celebrations, so it is important to explain to the children that we will be physically distant so that we can all be healthy and look toward next year’s Christmas season together and in person.

Enjoying holiday cheer in a responsible way and being mindful of potential substance abuse is imperative.  It may be challenging to maintain a feeling of control during this season.  It is so easy to get caught up in binge eating or substance abuse.  Practice moderation in all things.  Make a schedule to promote mindfulness consumption.  Movements, exercise, dancing in your kitchen are ways to increase serotonin levels and lift your mood.  After all, positive energy is contagious, your kids will follow suit.  You can search on youtube and learn a new dance.  Eating a balanced diet and getting enough water is essential to optimal health.  Sleep is very important for overall health. 
It is important to support each other through tough times especially for those suffering from substance use, depression, anxiety, and health issues.  Keep yourself active and busy.  Look for podcasts or a great playlist to keep you in uplifted spirits.  Find an area of the house you may have been neglecting and tackle it.  You will feel a sense of accomplishment.  A clutter-free environment will decrease the feeling of stress and anxiety.

It is actually a blessing in disguise, change your perspective on having to stay inside this holiday season, see it as an opportunity to take that online course, learn a language, try a new hobby, maybe teach yourself a new skill (lots of tutorials for almost anything on youtube)
            Finally, it is necessary to always practice gratitude.  It is understandable to get caught up in a negative mindset but take a deep breath and Identify the positives in your life.  Write them down.  It is the perfect time to look toward the New Year.  We are putting 2020 in the rearview mirror and looking optimistically towards 2021. Write down goals that are attainable and give them a timeline.  When you write down and give a date to achieve these goals it puts it into practice and gives you mental clarity and focus.  Empower yourself with positivity for the future.  Do your part in maintaining social distance this holiday season, so that we can reunite for future celebrations sooner than later.  Regularly check-in virtually with friends and family.
Be kind. Be calm. Be safe