HOW CAN WE CELEBRATE HOLIDAYS WITH COVID 19?
Over the last six months or so, blogs on this website have focused on the challenges for us all in dealing with the COVID 19 pandemic. My own clinical practice, research and writing in professional journals, as well as general news reports have shown significant increases in anxiety, depression, sleep difficulties, substance use/abuse, child abuse and domestic violence. Cardiac risks are serious. Prescriptions for medications for depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders have increased substantially. Helping ourselves to cope, helping our children to cope, and sustaining our immune systems have all been discussed in these blogs.
Two blogs focused on grief, one of them written by a family member in her personal journaling. This is grief in more subtle forms than losing a loved one, but still very much grief with its complications and challenges.
The fast-approaching holiday season adds another layer of challenge and complication. A few years ago, I wrote about the depressive struggles inherent in holiday celebrations for many of us (https://therapyinla.com/holidays-festive-joy-or-the-blues/) . The lifestyle choices available to us during COVID 19 will likely result in disappointments and unfulfilled expectations as many traditional celebrations and rituals will have to be changed. As of this writing (early October), it is still uncertain as to what restrictions will be in place for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Those restrictions will depend on local conditions as well as individual choices about safety.
Consider the following in going forward:
- Engage in some self-reflection and introspection. What is the essence of the holiday season for you? What are the fundamental basics that make for a meaningful experience?
- Share this with your partner, children to the depth that they may be capable of, and other close family members and friends. Seek their thoughts/feelings about this as well.
- Re-evaluate your expectations and plans. Simplify and scale back where necessary.
- Develop some new rituals or practices that express these fundamental basics, with your immediate family, other family members, and some close friends. Video calls may be an alternative with some genuine meaning and satisfaction. Given the mild climate in Southern California, some outside gatherings with very small groups with social distancing and face coverings may be possible (daytime hours on a sunny day, for example).
- Be careful about alcohol (or other substances) intake. While these traditions are part of the holidays, and add to the “festive spirit” and relaxation, they can also be inherently depressive and disinhibiting in ways that can be problematic.
- Maintain your own self-care routines: good sleep hygiene, good nutrition, exercise and recreation. This will help your mood as well as maintain your immune system.
Lastly, consider some psychotherapy. All of the members of the Independent Psychotherapy Network at www.therapyinla.com have extensive experience with helping clients navigate through the holiday season, as well as deal with the challenges in the COIVID 19 pandemic. We can help you find creative options, prevent depression/holiday blues, and be of help to your loved ones as well.
Dr. Alan Solomon is a psychologist in private practice in Torrance, CA. A member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network, he can be reached at 310 539-2772 or firstname.lastname@example.org Telehealth sessions are offered by telephone or video conferencing.
Copyright 2020 by Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.