The holiday season is a joyous time of year that many people look forward to all year. Holiday traditions, holiday treats, time spent with family and friends, and winter vacations are just a few of the highlights. However, due to COVID-19, this holiday season is going to look very different. As we near Thanksgiving and Christmas, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise nationwide. Many states are halting phased reopening plans or imposing new coronavirus-related restrictions. Several are even putting limits on social gatherings, adding states to travel quarantine lists, mandating face masks and encouraging residents to stay home, as many did in the spring. Others are restricting business hours of operation and limiting restaurant capacity.
As stated by OnePoll, 88% of Americans experience stress during the holidays. Most of this stress is caused by managing family commitments and just all the hustle and bustle of the season. However, this year, experts are predicting record high levels of holiday stress caused by uncertainty, isolation and the loss of routine and tradition. Not to mention the fear of contracting coronavirus or giving it to someone you love.
How to Manage Holiday Stress in 2020
- Make a plan and discuss it with your friends and loved ones. Ask what everyone’s favorite traditions are and what they will miss most. Then have everyone brainstorm together and come up with new traditions or safer alternatives you can experience this year. Talking about it and feeling like you have a plan can help eliminate stress about all the changes this year.
- Be sure to get plenty of exercise. Exercising is a great stress reliever and it will help prepare you to handle any daily stressors more effectively. Try incorporating daily exercise into your schedule to prevent holiday stress from building up. Better yet, have everyone in the household join in on daily physical activity to give everyone a mood boost!
- Whether getting outdoors is an old family tradition or a new one you are starting this year, spending time outdoors is one of the best ways to beat holiday stress this year. Hiking, walking, biking or any outdoor activity that allows you to social distance can instantly boost your mood and relieve stress.
- Limit gatherings to those in your household for lowest amount of risk. Remind yourself and your family members that while you may be spending this holiday season apart, it is a small sacrifice so that you can spend next year together and each year after that. Small, close gatherings also elevate the stress of infecting a loved one with COVID-19.
- Connect virtually. There are so many ways to still feel connected with friends and family this year. Bake the same recipes while on FaceTime, have the best looking pie, dessert, or gingerbread house contests via group chats, or set up zoom calls where everyone can decorate the tree at the same time.
- Set aside “me time.” You may think “me time” is only important during a busy holiday season. However, busy or not, it is necessary for your mental health. Get a workout in, walk the dog, take a bath, or turn in early to read a few chapters in your book, whatever helps you decompress and clear your mind.
- Keep yourself on a sleep schedule. Sleep deprivation drastically increases any feelings of stress and anxiety. You need 7-8 hours of sleep every night in order for your body and mind to rejuvenate, which is especially important during uncertain times.
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