[Image description: An illustrated light blue image shows a woman walking her dog on a sidewalk in the snow.]
Are you feeling stressed or anxious about the holidays? You’re not alone. While a little holiday stress is expected any year, it’s normal if you’re feeling more concerned than usual about get-togethers, safety and your health this winter.
Holidays are a special time to catch up, honor traditions and enjoy time with friends and family. While there is no single right way to celebrate this year, there are some ways that can help you cope with anxiety and get the support you need.
Follow local guidance
If you’re worried about whether it’s safe to attend or host a holiday gathering, it’s a good idea to find out the latest COVID-19 guidelines in your state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has guidelines and advice for staying safe at holiday celebrations.
Remaining informed about your community’s recommendations and aware of local COVID-19 outbreaks can help you make decisions that keep you and your family safe.
Make sure you’re on the same page as your loved ones
Talk to your family members and friends in advance of the holidays to decide what everyone is comfortable with. Some helpful questions to guide the conversation might include:
- Are you planning to celebrate outside or inside? Outdoor gatherings are lower risk for spreading infection but may not be possible in the winter, depending on where you live. If indoors, could you open the windows or doors to increase ventilation?
- Is everyone comfortable wearing a mask and physically distancing? It’s best to wear a mask and stay six feet apart from people who are not in your household so it’s worth considering if you have enough space to do so safely.
- Do your loved ones live nearby, or would travel be required? Celebrating the holidays with only the people you live with is lower risk, whereas traveling or flying on a plane is higher risk. If you’re hosting, you might consider asking people if it’s possible to strictly avoid contact with others 14 days before the gathering. If you are attending someone else’s party, speak with the members of your household to figure out what everyone is most comfortable with.
- Would attendees be open to getting tested for COVID-19 before the gathering? Depending on the availability of testing in your area, this could be one option to lower the risk. Remember, it’s also important that loved ones stay home if they are feeling sick or at higher risk for severe illness. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.
- Could you get creative with how you spend your time together? Perhaps you can celebrate virtually if you don’t feel comfortable having an in-person meal. Or maybe each household eats separately and then meets up after for a physically distant walk. If you are dining together, you could encourage everyone to bring food for just the members of their household.
- How can you honor traditions that are important to you? While some traditions may look a little different this year, you might be able to continue others safely. Consider meaningful ways you can respect your traditions — perhaps simplifying can help you focus on the meaning of the holidays. Trying a new tradition may also help the holidays feel special this year.
Once you’ve had a conversation, put together an arrangement that feels good for you. Having a plan (and maybe even a backup) you’re comfortable with can help alleviate your worries.
If you’re in a situation where your loved ones can’t agree, or you’re concerned about their practices, focus on making the best decision for you and your household. Identify priorities and boundaries with your immediate family first, then have confidence in them when negotiating with others.
Take care of yourself
It’s important to keep your stress in check and maintain healthy habits. Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet of whole grains, fruits and vegetables; getting at least seven hours of sleep per night; and exercising and/or walking daily. You may also find writing down your thoughts or worries to be helpful for coping with holiday stress.
Talk to a therapist for support
This year isn’t easy! If you find yourself feeling nervous, worried or just need to talk something through, therapists and psychologists are here to listen. Schedule a visit on LiveHealth Online today to get support and guidance from home.