Stress Management, Well-being and Self-Care

Family on computer chat

Holiday Blues during the Pandemic

by Erica Tuminski November 20, 2020

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the holiday blues are “temporary feelings of anxiety or depression during the holidays that can be associated with extra stress, unrealistic expectations or even memories that accompany the season.” But with the Covid-19 pandemic this year, many people may experience a new kind of holiday blues and unexpected emotions.

Because of Covid-19 and social distancing we have already had to do without vacations, parties, and other gatherings. Now that the holidays are upon us, we may be canceling them or celebrating differently.  You may feel worried about your health and your family’s wellbeing or you may be experiencing sadness or depression because your holiday plans are different this year.

Several families I know have already canceled their holiday travel plans this year in order to keep everyone safe, thus leaving many more people celebrating the holidays alone and suffering from anxiety and loneliness.  

You may also have the feeling of losing out on the experience of being with loved ones.  I’ve heard people say, “How many more holidays will I have with my elderly family members?” or if you are older, “How many more holidays do I have left?”

Here are 5 tips to help you cope with the holiday blues and all these emotions that you might be feeling as we approach the holiday season.

  • You are not alone: Understand that you are not the only one having these feelings, many people are feeling the same way and while it may feel uncomfortable it is OK to feel this way. And it is OK to talk to people about it.
  • Adjust your expectations: We don’t live in a “Hallmark” movie where every decoration is hung straight, cookies come out golden brown EVERY time and it always flurries at the end. Think about: What expectations are weighing on your mind right now? Where did they come from? What factors are in your control? Allow things to happen, do not put pressure on your self or others.
  • Self-care: If you are going to be alone this year do something you enjoy: read a book, binge watch your favorite show or movies, go for a walk, do a puzzle. Plan your favorite meal, it does not have to be the traditional holiday meal, this is your day. Focus on the things you can control and not on the things you can’t.
  • Connect with tech: If you are separated from friends and loved ones use technology. Phone and video meetings will help bring families and friends together, ease the feelings of isolation and invoke the true meaning of the holidays.
  • Cultivate feeling of gratitude: Start a gratitude journal now, so that you can read it when you are feeling blue. Choose to look at the positive things all around you.

No matter what is causing your holiday blues this year, try to be resilient and know that these feelings can and will pass. Make the most of what we have and enjoy this season.

Erica Tuminski
Erica Tuminski