Here we are again in the planning stages for our second pandemic holiday season. Sometimes it feels like we are veterans at navigating COVID. Other times it feels like all of the rules are changing, and it’s hard to know what is best.
Last holiday season, we saw an extreme spike in cases, and many people lost loved ones to the virus. This trauma and uncertainty we’ve experienced can create a lot of trepidation around the holidays, especially after just riding the wave of the Delta variant. Many are yearning to be back to their old traditions and are ready for things to be back to normal, while others are uncertain how safe that might be.
Holiday planning can be stressful in general, and navigating a pandemic each year can bring stress levels to full-blown overwhelm. This blog explores ways to reflect on the upcoming holiday season by considering both safety and connection.
Holiday Planning 2021
Difficulties can arise when people who are trying to make plans together differ on their holiday vision. Maybe your partner wants to have a neighborhood party with an open invitation, which makes you uncomfortable. Perhaps you want to travel before the peak holiday season, but your parents disagree. Or you may have enjoyed spending Christmas alone with your partner last year for the first time and are considering changing some traditions.
There might be some difficult conversations that need to be had with loved ones to express your needs during the holidays. What’s essential is learning what your current limits and boundaries are this holiday season.
Use Assertive Communication
Once you know your boundaries, it is time to express them clearly to those involved in your holiday planning. Speaking assertively allows you to share your message effectively and with respect. Assertive language could look like, “I hear that you would love to host a neighborhood party this year, but I would only be comfortable with fifteen or less people at our house. Can we make it by invitation only?”
Pandemic Panic Toolkit
Though it is important to be safe, it is also essential to not be ridden with fear. True, the emotion of fear is a call to action so that we can take necessary precautions to protect ourselves and can inspire helpful behaviors. For example, if we are fearful about falling off the side of a cliff, we may take a few steps back, hold onto something sturdy, or check in with those around us. These actions should help to lessen the fear. Similarly, you can also take measures to reduce your pandemic panic and better enjoy your holiday season.
- Follow Local Guidelines: Remember that every area may have a different rate of transmission of the virus, and your local area is the most important to consider. Be mindful and aware of any mandates or precautions your local area is considering. And remember, you can always check the CDC’s recommendations.
- Be Willing to Adapt: While making plans in advance, know that these may change as the date gets closer. Make sure the people you are planning on being in person with know that you want them to stay home if they are symptomatic. There might also be another variant that causes us to adjust our travel plans. Talk with your family and loved ones about what the ideal and backup plans are.
- Consider Risk Level: Think about who you are spending time with around the holidays. Are some of your loved ones unvaccinated or heavily immunocompromised? If you have a higher risk group, then hosting something outside or over Zoom may be preferred. Get creative with your holiday party so that you can both have fun and be safe.
- Care for Yourself: Take time to reflect on your thoughts and feelings as the holidays approach. When your nervous system is overwhelmed, you may become irritable, impulsive, or shut down entirely. By taking time to breathe and considering your stress, you can better support your needs and help others understand your perspective.
We are Still in ‘Unprecedented’ Times
By now, hearing the word ‘unprecedented’ may make you want to roll your eyes, but we truly are in some strange times. Though COVID has become a known part of life, there are still numerous implications living through it. Many people feel more fatigued and anxious than in previous years and need support now more than ever.
Consider your stress level this holiday season and what steps you can take to help it still be a time of joy and connection. We are all going through this together, and each of us has our own unique story to tell on how the pandemic has affected us and what that means for the coming months.
Please contact Pure Health Center today if you or someone you love needs support during this holiday season.