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Another Pandemic Holiday: How to Keep it Together

By Divya Balendra



My family, friends, and I definitely thought that the 2021 holiday season would be a blast, with meetups and family events. Little did we think that we would get a repeat of last year, where a lot of us would be staring at walls in our homes or at screens. Very few of us expected getting sick, increasing COVID-19 cases and changing pandemic policies. The lack of social interaction and holiday spirit with family and friends has most definitely taken a toll on mental health. With that said, this article outlines some things to consider implementing into your holiday season.


Plan Early and Set Expectations


For those of us who are able to meet with friends and families in small gatherings, create plans early, and train your mind to not have extremely high hopes that it would work out due to extenuating circumstances. Planning early as opposed to “playing it by ear” and waiting to see how pandemic protocols change allow for you to make good decisions and get comfortable. At the same time, setting expectations to account for illnesses and sudden changes in policies aims to ensure that you aren’t extremely affected.

Start New Traditions


This year has definitely encouraged many people to become innovative in regards to social events. If you’re at home with your family, organize indoor games and events to lighten the mood. Create exercise-based activities to encourage your family to move; pandemic protocols coupled with the cold would definitely decrease the amount of exercise one partakes in. Furthermore, take advantage of technology and hop on zoom calls with friends to have a virtual games night.


Traditions could be individual in nature as well; take up a new hobby or learn a new language. Research shows that keeping yourself busy can help you overcome tough, uncontrollable situations. Especially with New Years right around the corner, take this time to create resolutions that take into account aspects of the pandemic.


Get into the Holiday Spirit


Whatever holiday you celebrate, make an active effort to incorporate some form of spirit into the house. This could be decorating a Christmas tree, baking cookies, listening to joyous music, etc. Changing the environment to suit the holiday festivities can definitely have an effect on how you are viewing this time of year.


Enjoy the Break and Be Nice to Yourself


Even though the holidays may not feel like a break, please understand that you have been working tirelessly this school year, and you deserve some time off. Although changing policies may have altered your plans, make sure you still set aside time to do activities that are safe and enjoyable to you. Catch up on shows and movies, invest more time in your hobbies, spend time with your family doing activities that are enjoyed by everyone and call your friends.


Communicate


One of the biggest factors that helped me get through the pandemic was talking to family and friends. Even if it was a 5 minute phone call, allowing myself to express my feelings and thoughts to others was very therapeutic. Talking to others also provides you with different perspectives, which allows you to consider your problems in a different light.

If you are not comfortable sharing with other people, communicating your thoughts to yourself is extremely important. Find an outlet to express your thoughts; this could be through journaling, diary writing or through voice memos. However it may be, make sure to get in touch with yourself through communication. It is completely okay to feel sad, angry or jealous over this holiday. This year may be a difficult one for those who are in toxic environments, or who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 over this year. Acknowledge your feelings and potentially create action plans to help you overcome those feelings.

 

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