How to embrace the holidays and stay safe during COVID-19
The holidays are known to be a time of joy and peace – but sometimes they can also be hard. This year, they may be especially difficult due to COVID-19. Psychiatrist Casey Berson, MD, shared some tips for handling the holiday season this year.
How can you honor family traditions while still being safe from COVID-19?
Being social is not something you have to miss out on this year. You can still cook together, sing together, open gifts together, watch movies together, play games together and make memories together – you may just need do it virtually. Be sure to set dates and times up in advance for a holiday celebration, just as you would have before COVID-19, to ensure that your traditions continue.
“Because of the technology available to us today, we actually have the ability to speak to and see our family and friends in real time. While it may feel weird to use video instead of being in person, it truly can make you feel closer together during this season,” said Dr. Berson.
What are the recommendations for celebrating in person?
If seeing friends and family is in your plans, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released recommendations to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 to keep you, your friends, your family and the community safe. These recommendations include:
- Know the infection rates and requirements of where you are and where you will be traveling.
- Limit the number of people you will be interacting with.
- Spend time outdoors as much as possible.
- Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors when safe or placing central air and heating on continuous circulation for indoor get togethers.
- Avoid singing or shouting, especially indoors. Think about keeping the ambient noise level low so people don’t have to shout to be heard.
- Wear masks and stay six feet away from people who do not live in your household.
- Wash your hands frequently.
How should you handle disappointment and the “holiday blues”?
“The first thing to know is that it is absolutely okay and normal to be disappointed during the holidays, more so this year because of the pandemic,” said Dr. Berson. “Uncertainty makes us anxious and when the only certainty is change, you are primed for panic.”
Dr. Berson offered these tips to help you focus on the positive this holiday season.
- Focus on what you can do. This can help you adjust your expectations and improve your mood.
- Set new or small goals for the new year. Start thinking about the new year and what your goals will be. Start a new book, learn a new language, practice an old instrument, set aside five minutes for a hot drink. Starting small can help you feel accomplished.
- Look back on what you have accomplished. While looking forward and keeping an eye on the horizon makes sense, it’s also helpful to look at where you’ve come from and to remember what you’re thankful for. It has been a hard year, but try to find the silver lining if you can.
If you find that your holiday blues refuse to subside, are getting worse or are accompanied by behavior changes, please reach out and seek professional help.
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