by Lisa Clodfelter, MA, LPC
This holiday season feels heavy.
I could list study results by well-respected organizations in health and well-being to prove my point, but none of us really needs more negative statistics to pile on the already gloomy prospect of spending the holidays without traditions and loved ones.
And while most of us are fully onboard with Dr. Fauci in our brains, our hearts are just not getting it. We are sick of this virus. We are tired of being alone.
I have been hearing more and more of this tone as Hannukah came and went, Christmas is now knocking, and the New Year is on the horizon. Everyone is doing their best to cope, and it just is not easy. Here are a few ideas that might help you beat the Covid-19 holiday isolation blues:
- Don’t argue with what is. If you’re feeling bummed and isolated, you don’t need to pretend that everything is okay. This has been a funky year full of challenges and feelings of sadness, isolation, disappointment, and even depression. Those feelings are fully valid, and you don’t have to push past or ignore them. Even these negative feelings can be honored and accepted. Many of us try to “just get through the day” and while that may be effective in the short term, we seem to be in a bit of a long game situation here. It’s not really healthy to pretend you’re okay when you’re not.
- Try communicating your feelings to someone who understands. At least once a day plan on having a phone or face time call whereby you discuss the things that are bothering each of you during the isolation. Vent to each other a bit. And don’t forget to talk about the connections with other people you each have as well. For instance, you might mention your daughter learning the piano and other things that remind you of the connections each of you still have. It’s important to discuss these connections with others often to remind ourselves that they are still there – they’ve just been displaced for a bit.
- Try to be direct with your family and friends about what you want and need. Many times, folks will keep their desire for connection hidden as to not be an inconvenience to anyone. This strategy is a surefire way of sinking into loneliness and despair. A better way is to openly identify what it is you want and need from your family/friends in a very straightforward way. This gives them the best chance at meeting your needs and shows you trust in their ability to make their own decisions about how to help you feel cared for.
- Have a plan for the actual holiday. Get out in front of that day with a game plan about what kind of food you’ll eat, what activities you might enjoy, and the tv shows, movies, or books you’d like to have on hand to indulge in. If your folks are up for a virtual visit, try planning on playing a game or doing some activity together in that way.
- Consider spending time learning something new you’d like to have accomplished when all of this is over. Learning a new language, picking up a new skill, starting a new business, or trying yoga for the first time.
- Limit your news intake. Of course, we all want to stay abreast of the developments in the virus treatment, etc., but keeping that constant narrative in our heads can result in overwhelming fear and despair. Consider approaching the news with questions in mind. Once those questions have been answered, turn it off. This limits our intake of fear and hopelessness.