Early Preparation for the Holiday Season during COVID-19

How to mentally prepare in a pandemic

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It’s tough to imagine that we are experiencing another holiday season amid a pandemic once again, but here we are. Gone are the days where we could safely have multiple family and friends gathering, and to be frank, it sucks! However, this shouldn’t stop us from having some celebration.

It’s essential to make the most out of any situation, although sometimes difficult, which is why planning ahead is beneficial. I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but it has taken me a little more mental strength than in past years to get in the holiday spirit. So not waiting until the last minute to gear up for festivities this year is my ultimate goal.

These are memories that I’m sure you still want to partake in, even if different from previous years for those of you who have babies or small children. It takes mental preparation and ultimately physical if you plan on cooking and shopping. Also, many cannot “go all out,” so I wanted to provide some tips to help you still prepare to enjoy this season.

Set realistic expectations for yourself

This is your reminder that nothing is normal right now. It’s okay to feel lost and overwhelmed. It’s crucial to recognize that you are not a robot. You are a human with real emotions and a life where you have to take care of yourself and others. Please don’t overdo it this time around. Make a list if you have to of all of the things you can maintain this season, and slowly check off the list. For example, if you don’t have the budget you thought you would, plan on cutting back or scaling your holiday meals down this year. There are also resources of free food for families. Ask the people you know for help.

Talk to your loved ones about the plan

Whether you plan to celebrate with those in your immediate household or gather with your family and friends, gather safely. Virtual hangouts have been plentiful, but hey, sometimes we gotta do what we gotta do. We can’t afford to risk our health as many unknown consequences are surrounding the COVID-19 virus.

According to Erica Lee, a psychiatrist at the Boston Children’s Hospital, start talking to family a few weeks ahead of time about the holidays. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it is necessary to consider things are so different, and this pandemic is not so temporary anymore. Be prepared for the different responses you may get, especially from your children and your closest relatives. Be easy on yourself to make the best decision for you and yours.

Allow yourself to grieve

The statement I see constantly is that this is our “new normal.” I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I know it has been difficult to grasp that we may be dealing with not generally socializing for quite some time. That is, if you are practicing safety.

Even if it seems extreme, give yourself permission to release your worries and sadness. Not being able to see family and friends or provide in the way you used to this holiday season is something to mourn. I feel that we are expected to move through our emotions so quickly, which isn’t healthy. Take your time and know that you are not alone.

Though these holidays may be different, it doesn’t mean that you must give up on celebrating them entirely. We have been forced to pivot, but we will prevail. We’ll come out stronger because of this. Just have to take things one step at a time.

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