Christmas 2020 is likely to be one of the strangest holiday seasons most of us experience. With the COVID-19 pandemic surging, public health experts are strongly suggesting we change how we celebrate. Large gatherings are not encouraged, and social distancing has become the standard. Holiday parties have been cancelled. Plans for travel to be with family and friends have been postponed or called off. Sadly, it will be a season of solitude for many leading to some holiday blues.
Loneliness is tough any time of the year but is especially difficult during the holidays. Fortunately, there are a few simple practices that might help make it more bearable:
- Focus on the present: This is simply a moment in time. Don’t spend too much time concerned with what will happen in the future. Leave a little mystery about what the future holds. You might be pleasantly surprised with how life turns out. There will be more pleasant holidays to celebrate in years to come. Also, while it’s nice to reminisce about past holidays, don’t slip too far into the past. It’s easy to over glorify the “good old days” and pretend life was perfect. It wasn’t. You burned the turkey, your spent too much money on gifts and your siblings fought constantly. Take an honest look at those past holidays and see them for what they were. Pay attention to what is going on right now! Enjoy the best time you can. Call your family and friends, laugh and be thankful for all the good experiences you are having in this moment.
- Practice self-care: If you find yourself alone this Christmas, why not use the day as an opportunity for taking care of yourself? Turn on some fun holiday music and sing along out loud. Make yourself a delicious meal. Experiment with some new recipes you’ve been meaning to try. Put on a fancy Christmas outfit and take a selfie to post on social media (if that’s your thing). Or put on your favorite comfortable clothes (sweatpants anyone?) and simply unwind. Read. Write in a gratitude journal. Watch a fun Christmas movie with your favorite snack. Take a nap. Do the things you never get the chance to do. Relax and enjoy yourself.
- Connect differently: We are fortunate to have technology available to stay in contact with our loved ones during times when we are not able to physically gather. Although it is not the way we would ideally like to celebrate, it is an option to connect. Schedule Zoom calls with your family and friends, either individually or as a group. The chance to see their smiles and talk will boost your mood and reduce your sense of loneliness. Consider creating a theme such as a family sing-a-long, or a virtual ugly Christmas sweater fashion show. You may decide to coordinate meals to be eaten at the same time. Or plan to have a cookie making demo with some of the special people in your life (follow up by sending a batch in the mail for them to sample).
Whatever you decide to do, remember to stay in a positive mindset. Don’t equate being alone with loneliness. Your sense of fun and creativity will guide you to memorable experiences and a holiday like no other. Enjoy!