Surviving the Holidays During a Pandemic

It’s hard to believe that we’ve made it to the end of this year. 2020 has been the first time we’ve had to celebrate the holiday season during a global pandemic, and it’s safe to say that nobody really knows what to expect. Whether you’re celebrating alone, virtually, or with loved ones, this year’s traditions will undoubtedly be altered by the presence of COVID-19. It’s devasting, frustrating, and saddening, but you are not alone.

Although we cannot control the fact that there’s a pandemic during the holidays, there are still ways in which we can stay afloat during this confusing, unique season. Here are 3 tips to help survive the holidays during the pandemic:

Carve Out Time for Self-care

If you’ve ever boarded a plane, I’m sure you’ve heard the following phrase: “place the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others.” Now, think of this concept in relation to self-care. How would you be able to tend to others’ needs this holiday season if you haven’t tended to your own?

Self-care looks different for everybody. Personally, I feel recharged when I am alone, which is a reason why the holidays have always felt a bit overwhelming for me. Around this time of year, it’s difficult to get my desired quota of alone time because of the number of social obligations that pile up. I have to remind myself that even if I can’t recharge my batteries to the fullest, I’m still allowed to set boundaries to get as much of a charge that I can to keep me going. Although I consider myself lucky to be able to spend the holidays with my family this year, I’ll still have to step into the next room and take a breather from the social interactions every once in a while when I begin to feel overwhelmed. 

How will you practice self-care this holiday season? Try to come up with a few concrete ideas of what self-care looks like to you and come back to them when you feel like your body, mind, and spirit need some added support.

Get Some Fresh Air

I always get irritated when people suggest I exercise or get some fresh air when I’m feeling down or overwhelmed. Even though (deep, deep down) I know they’re right, it never makes it easier to do. So, here I am, being a hypocrite and suggesting you do the very thing I always dread hearing from others. Go outside!

Getting fresh air seems like such a trivial thing to do—especially when your mental health isn’t at its best—but there are many benefits to doing so. Fresh air helps send oxygen through your blood, which allows your lungs to work at full capacity. Especially during this pandemic, it’s easy to justify staying inside all day. Try your best to take short breaks and schedule some time for exercise or outdoor activities—anything counts, even a walk to the mailbox and back. At the end of the day, you’ll thank yourself for it.

Reach Out When You Need To

The holidays can feel isolating—whether you’re spending them alone or not. Family dynamics are complicated and can bring up all sorts of different emotions. Instead of running away from those emotions, try naming them and validating them. Ask yourself how you feel and allow yourself to feel it. If you begin to feel overwhelmed by your family or, alternately, feel lonely because you can’t be with them, consider reaching out to someone who has the capacity to be present and hear you out. If talking to someone isn’t an option for you, opt to write your feelings down in a journal—this will automatically materialize what’s going on in your head and will allow you to ground yourself in the present moment.

Overall, I understand that these three tips won’t automatically fix your holiday experience, but they might help you take back control of the little things you can this year. Wherever you are and whoever you find yourself with, the Vent Over TeaM wishes you a safe and healthy holiday season. Remember to prioritize your well-being when you can. You’ve got this!

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Danielle Boucher

Danielle is a freelance writer and editor based out of Ottawa. She is currently studying Publishing at Ryerson University and navigating her lifelong relationship with her mental health one day at a time.

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