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How Do I Cope With the Holidays and COVID-19?

By: Bridgette W. Gottwald, LPC, NCC 

You want festive, you want fun, you want fa-la-la-la-la. However, when it comes to celebrating the holidays (and doing pretty much everything else in the world), things look a bit different this year. Coping with the holidays and the COVID-19 Pandemic isn’t an easy adjustment for anyone. On top of that, we’ve never done this before, so we have to adapt and learn as we go. To do this, we have to become experts at thinking outside of the box. 


Although things might look a bit different this year, you can still find ways to celebrate. For things to go smoothly, we have to be willing to adapt to new routines, plans, and schedules. Try to let go of rigidity and be open to doing things differently. 

Be Realistic 

Over time, families change and grow – traditions and rituals might as well. Be open-minded to creating new ones. This year, given the pandemic, this might include video calls or virtual ways of being together to celebrate the holiday. 

Plan Ahead 

Before diving into the holidays headfirst, make sure that you set aside time and specific days for doing what you need to get done, such as shopping, connecting with friends, baking, and other activities that are important to you. Doing this will help you to prevent last-minute scrambling, or as my family calls it, “scurrying.” Within families, think about how you can work together to split up to-dos and tasks that need to be accomplished. 

Set Aside Differences

Accept friends and family members as they are, even if your opinions differ and someone doesn’t live up to your expectations. Be understanding when and if others get upset or distressed when things don’t go well for them. Remember that we never know what goes on behind closed doors or how other people may be struggling. The holidays aren’t easy for everyone, so practicing patience and gentle ways of handling and responding to others will be in the best interests of all. 

Don’t Abandon Healthy Habits

The holidays are not a time for a free for all. Overindulgence will do nothing but add to your stress levels. Below are some tips and suggestions to avoid letting your healthy habits sneak away from you: 

  •  Eat healthy snacks before holiday meals so that you don’t accidentally go overboard with alcohol, sweets, or cheese. 
  • Eat healthy meals and practice portion control
  • Pay attention to your sleep habits 
  • Incorporate physical activity into your everyday routine 
  • Practice deep breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation 
  • Be aware of your relationship with the “information culture” – staying glued to the news and media can be exhausting, so make sure you adjust how much time you are spending engaged with these distractions.  

Learn to Say No 

Saying yes when you need to say no will leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. We can’t do it all. Friends, family, and colleagues will be understanding when you say no and set some boundaries. We are only human, and sometimes we need to lower the expectations of ourselves over the holidays with all that is going on around us. 

Take Breaks 

Make sure that you are setting aside time for yourself to do activities that you actually enjoy. Also, alone time becomes very important during this time. Even if it’s just 15 minutes to collect your thoughts, gather yourself, and take some time to rest and refresh. 

Although the holidays this year may be disappointing for many, focusing on the small things that we can be grateful for and checking in with your perspective will help you to make the best of it. 


The Mayo Clinic. Stress, depression, and holidays: Tips for coping. Retrieved from:

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