Coping With COVID-19 During the Holidays

Fall is upon us, and it’s time to think about the upcoming holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the other holidays celebrated during this season bring unique stress this year, due to the pandemic. All of us must think about our cherished holiday traditions for this year, and make choices, in light of health considerations. Safety is the most important thing. And this causes stress and anxiety on top of the stress we normally feel, with the hustle and bustle of gift buying, gift giving, and big family meals.

Here are a few things you might consider as you think about how to handle the holiday season this year.

  • Assess risks of travel and get-togethers

In assessing the risk of travel and get-togethers, consider where you are traveling to, and how prevalent the virus is in that location.  The virus is on the upswing nearly everywhere at this point.

Consider the health and age of the people you are thinking about visiting. Do they have pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes, heart trouble, or lung problems? If so, you may want to skip this year to protect their health.

  • Think about alternatives

As you consider whether to visit with family or friends during the holiday season, consider how seriously they are taking the pandemic. Are they taking precautions? Are they wearing masks? Keep in mind that most of the spread of late has been due to family gatherings.

Consider skipping the gatherings just this year, and doing a video conference get-together instead. Google, Zoom, and other services provide free video conferencing.

  • Dealing with emotions

As time-honored traditions fall by the wayside during this pandemic, inevitably you and your family or friends will experience strong emotions of loss, change, sadness, and disappointment.

Acknowledge these feelings, and if they become persistent to the point that you have trouble functioning, seek help. Some resources are listed below.

Resources for mental health in McLennan County

For immediate help with mental health issues, call 9-1-1.

Or call 866-752-3451 toll-free for mental health crisis assistance.

The Texans Recovering Together Crisis Counseling Program offers free, short-term crisis counseling by phone or tele-video for individuals, families, and groups living in McLennan, Limestone, Hill, Freestone, Falls, and Bosque counties.  To request a counselor reach out to you, please go to: https://covidwaco.com/coping-with-stress/ and look for the “COVID-19 Counseling Request Form.” Or call 1-866-576-1101 toll-free.

Other Resources for help in a crisis

Take care of yourself

Taking care of your friends and your family can be a stress reliever, but it should be balanced with care for yourself. Helping others cope with their stress, such as by providing social support, can also make your community stronger. During times of increased social distancing, people can still maintain social connections and care for their mental health. Phone calls or video chats can help you and your loved ones feel socially connected, less lonely, or isolated. But first and foremost, take care of yourself.