For many people, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas normally conjures up images of family gatherings, parties galore, an excess of food and drink until the waistband of your pants starts straining, and a large dollop of festive cheer. For others, it can be a time of reflection, extreme loneliness, or heightened anxiety, and certainly not the most wonderful time of the year.
This year, thanks to COVID-19, we will all be faced with a unique set of challenges during the holiday season.
Every year, the holiday season brings with it additional stress and worry.
From getting hold of this year’s must-have toy, all that planning, the extra cooking, and not skimping on the decorations, to all the parties and the outfits for the parties, and over-excited children, not to mention the additional financial pressures of having to pay for it all.
For those already suffering from mental health issues, it can feel completely overwhelming.
This year, there’s the additional stresses of being separated from friends, family, and loved ones due to lockdown, extra financial pressure if you have been laid off, and maybe coping with unexpected losses.
Social distancing, no attendance at sports games, and no mass family gatherings mean that this holiday season will be very different for everyone. However, this doesn’t mean it has to be a sad affair and that you have to feel isolated.
Even if you cannot travel, spend time with friends and family, or go to the usual parties, there are still ways you can make the best out of the situation by adapting the normal and creating a satisfying holiday season for all.
This year, the rulebook has been thrown out of the window, and you can set whatever rules you like. You could play games with family over Zoom, not max out on the credit card and keep presents simple, maybe even handmade, or even not overindulge with food and drink so you can start 2021 with a clear head.
If you are feeling stressed or anxious about the holiday season, there are some simple things you can do to keep a clear head.
A good plan helps you feel more in control of the situation, but it doesn’t need to be full-on project management or an exercise in tactical maneuvers.
Keeping it simple is the key to success. Plan what you’re going to eat, what you need to buy and what you’re going to do.
It’s very easy to lose track and overspend during the holidays.
Sticking to a budget, helps you keep control of your spending and not worrying that you will be paying for it well into 2021.
The season for giving doesn’t mean you have to pay a fortune, and sometimes the simplest things can mean the most.
Some ideas for simple gifts include gift vouchers, donating to charity in the recipient’s name, making your own gifts (bath salts are very easy to make) or even giving a gift voucher in the form of a promise, e.g., babysitting, mowing the lawn, or time together.
This is easier said than done during the holiday season with its endless list of things to do. The enormity of it all can feel exhausting.
But sometimes, all it takes is to flip the way you think about a situation to help you feel more positive.
For instance, if you dread going to the shops and fighting through the crowds to get that last-minute ‘just-in-case’ present or forgotten item on the food list, stop and take a moment. Ask yourself, do you really need it, or can it wait? If it’s not essential, then you can save yourself the stress and anxiety and stay calm.
With no parties to rush off to every night, why not try occupying your time by trying new things that you’ve never had time to do before.
When you’re stressed, your immune system lowers its guard, making it easier for you to get sick, so it’s also important to keep your physical health in check during the holiday season.
Remember to take any regular medication you need, get a good night’s sleep every night, and exercise daily.
Exercise releases endorphins, the ‘happy’ hormones. Whether it’s finding a workout on YouTube or wrapping up and going outside for a walk, exercise will help blow the cobwebs away.
When the holiday season gets too much, it can feel like we’re forever chasing our breath, so it’s important to take time to breathe.
Find a safe, quiet place, and either perform a simple breathing exercise or take some time to meditate.
Giving yourself that breathing time will help center and calm you.
However you approach the coming holiday season, it’s important to remember that although 2020 was, without a shadow of a doubt, a stormy year for humanity, there is a new year coming filled with new opportunities, and we should look forward to it with optimism.