It has been an unusual year, but the end of 2020 is fast approaching and the holiday season is here. There is no question that the holidays this year will be very different than years past…

For many people, Christmas and New Years are a wonderful time to get together with family and friends, many of whom we have not seen for some time. For others, though, the holiday season can be more challenging and bittersweet. There may be on-going family conflicts that make being together stressful. There may have been a death of a family member or close friend, and you may find yourself grieving that loss. Because of Covid-19, you or other family members may not feel it is in the best interest to get together in person. Whatever your situation this year, we have some suggestions to help you make this a better holiday season.

Slow down and appreciate each day. This is one of the hardest things to do during the holiday season. It is so easy to get caught up in the “busyness” of the holiday season. We can make ourselves very stressed as we try to do it all. It’s easy to find ourselves overly concerned about buying the perfect gifts, decorating our homes for the holidays, writing and sending Christmas cards, baking Christmas cookies and making candies, etc. Try to spend a few minutes to choose one or two things that are the most important for you to accomplish this holiday season, and be willing to let other things go.

Stay connected to family and friends. For most of us, this may be the year where we don’t see some family members or friends in person because of the risk of transmitting or contracting the Covid-19 virus. That doesn’t mean that we can’t “spend time” with them over the holidays. Even though it’s not the same as being with someone in person, we are blessed to have technology that lets us still connect and see and talk to others. Think about ways you can spend time with those you won’t see in person. Some ideas for online get-togethers may include eating your holiday meal together, visiting and playing board games together, singing Christmas carols together, etc.

Maintain your holiday traditions. Each of us has holiday traditions that define and make our time together as a family special. What are some of your family traditions? Do you enjoy decorating the Christmas tree together as a family? Do you enjoy watching Christmas movies or decorating Christmas cookies together? Whatever your family traditions are, it is essential to continue these to make this a special year.

Practice good self-care. Take time out each day for yourself to de-stress. Think of those things that help you to relax. This looks different for every individual but may include such things as reading a good book by the fireplace, enjoying a bubble bath, listening to music, watching a funny movie, or doing a craft. Take time to make a list of the things you enjoy and are relaxing for you personally, and commit to doing one of them each day.

Try to stay physically healthy. We all know that it is hard to stay physically fit and healthy over the holiday season. As much as possible, try to get your adequate sleep of 7-9 hours/night, and eat various foods. Unless for some medical reason it is contraindicated, try to exercise for 20-30 minutes three to five times/week. Exercising can be a challenge as the weather here in Minnesota gets colder, and it’s harder to be outside. There are things we can do, though, to stay active. Examples would be taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away from the office or a store so we can get some walking in, and exercising to work out videos at home. If you do decide to exercise outside, be sure to be dressed appropriately for the weather.

Monitor your emotional health and reach out when in need. If you do find you are having a difficult day, be proactive, and reach out to someone for help. This may be a friend, family member, pastor, etc. If you are struggling with grief, anxiety, depression, or some other mental health condition, please feel free to reach out to us at Water’s Edge Counseling & Healing Center for help.

We hope these tips help as you navigate through this unique time. From all of us at Water’s Edge Counseling & Healing Center, we wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season!

  • Pam Brown, APRN, PMHNP-BC, MPA, Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner