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Published on November 23, 2021

Holidays Are Here: Don't Let COVID-19 Take Away Your Cheer

Feeling stress or anxiety about another holiday season with COVID-19? Worried about conversations with family and friends about what celebrations or gatherings will look like?

David Gutterman, PhD, a clinical psychologist with LeBauer Behavioral Medicine, a member of Cone Health Medical Group, provides tips for managing holiday and COVID-19 stress.

Have reasonable expectations for the holiday season.

Because of COVID-19, this holiday is different than others we've had in the past -- but that's OK. Remember where we were just two years ago, and where we are now. There is good reason to be optimistic for the future.

Talk about the positive: Where we're going, how things are going to continue to get better. It can be helpful to think about what the holidays mean to you, and what makes the holidays special. Keep those points in mind.

For example, one thing to keep top of mind is gratitude for all the things that you have in your life, the people you have around you, the friends and supports that you have. that will help keep the holidays in perspective

Set expectations about safety at holiday gatherings.

It can be very anxiety provoking to go into a situation where you don't know how others feel about COVID-19 safety precautions. Make sure that you consult with the people who are attending ahead of time to see if their ideas about safety are similar to yours.

Don't let yourself get caught up in negative, controversial discussions. Some family members may want to get into those discussions, but don't take the bait. Make sure you have an exit strategy to get out of conversations that are overly negative.

Remember: This is the time to be thinking about family, friends and very positive things.

Don't dwell on disappointments. Focus on new experiences.

Instead of focusing on disappointments, focus on creating positive new experiences with each other. Whether it's games you play, cooking certain dishes together, reminiscing by looking at old pictures -- those are positive things that celebrate your family's history and traditions together.

As we've learned over the course of the pandemic, technology can help us stay connected even when we can't be together physically. Take a section of the holiday dinner where you talk to your friends and family across the country. Share meals back and forth virtually. There are things you can do to still feel like you're close even if you can't be in the same household.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, reach out for support.

At Cone Health, we are committed to offering comprehensive and convenient behavioral health care to all of our patients – from young children to older adults. Learn more about behavioral health care options available 24/7 at Cone Health.

Holidays Are Here: Don't Let COVID-19 Stress Take Away Your Cheer