COVID-19 may make this year’s holiday stress worse than ever

Key points

  • The collective feelings surrounding this year’s holiday vary greatly, because the pandemic affects everyone slightly differently.
  • Mental health experts predict that this holiday will increase or increase stress and other negative emotions. This is problematic because the holiday is already a stressful period of the year.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is still in full swing and the holidays are getting closer, we have witnessed various emotional reactions and preparations. For some people, holidays are highly anticipated times of the year.

Depending on the individual and their daily life, they can be used as a break from work and daily work, or as an opportunity to take a vacation. Many people use holidays to spend time with extended families, especially if they live in different parts of the state or country.

However, due to the restrictions of COVID-19 and the potential health risks associated with public transportation, many people choose to stay at home and are considering how to contact their loved ones at a distance. For many people who look forward to this time of the year, this change can be difficult, especially for those with elderly relatives.

For those who didn’t like holiday celebrations in the first place, the global pandemic has further complicated these negative sentiments. “Most people are under a lot of stress for most of the year. Failure to celebrate holidays in the traditional way may exacerbate the stress and loneliness that people already feel.” Amy Morin, LCSW, VigorTip Mind Editor-in-chief.

Compound emotions


Dr. Renee Exelbert, founding director of the Center for Psychological and Physical Transformation, said that in normal years, spending time with family members can bring significant benefits. “Holidays usually improve the mental state of many of us because we look forward to special family gatherings where we can get together.

“Spending time with the people we love can help resist feelings of loneliness and depression, especially in this period of greater social isolation, where close contact is more needed than ever before,” she said.

However, current health risks complicate and even distort our usual emotions about these reunions. Exelbert points out that relatives who are usually comfortable places for people may now be seen as potentially dangerous, which can lead to increased stress and even damage your immunity.

“However, the failure to celebrate meaningful family traditions this year may put some people into a more frustrated state, feeling as if their ability to cope with COVID-19 has been surpassed,” she said.

Social altruism

Social altruism, or the ethical practice of caring about the well-being and happiness of others, can also influence the challenging emotions people experience during this holiday.

This worry about other people is completely natural, but it becomes a problem when we may not be able to protect people in the way we want. “When a person’s behavior and choices may have such an adverse effect on family members, social altruism, or the tendency to regard the needs of others as more important than one’s own needs, and the willingness to sacrifice for others, are completely new. Meaning,” Exelbert said.

Complex family dynamics

For others, the most wonderful time of the year may bring some not so wonderful feelings. Family dynamics can complicate gatherings or may bring negative memories. “For some people, vacations may make family members who no longer live or estranged feel lonely and lost,” Exelbert said.

She said that this is also a time when we may feel great pressure because of having an ideal family and generate unrealistic expectations, which may deepen the sense of isolation and alienation.

A global pandemic was triggered, and the tensions became worse. Many people are under constant pressure to spend vacations with their families, regardless of public health risks, which puts excessive pressure on interpersonal relationships. Exelbert explained: “Complicated family dynamics may cause individuals to feel pressure to hold or attend holiday parties, which may directly conflict with their personal choices or sense of security.”

Renee Exelbert, PhD

For those who have more strained relationships with family members, their ambivalence may end in greater resentment or anger, because they may not want to share the vacation in the first place, and are now suffering from additional threats from family members pressure. disease.

— Renee Exelbert, PhD

Exelbert said that these worries can severely disrupt your normal mental health functions and have stress-related health consequences.

“For those who have more strained relationships with family members, their ambivalence may lead to greater resentment or anger, because they may not want to share vacations in the first place and are now suffering from the threat of additional stressful illness. These inner feelings can also lead to mental and physical health problems,” she said.

Lack of control

It is often difficult for people to lack control over their living environment. Since the novelty of COVID-19 prevents us from making plans around it, it is obvious why we have seen a surge in anxiety and depression since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many feelings related to lack of control, anxiety and uncertainty. Add to that the stress of dealing with their relationship with their families, and you will have a perfect storm,” Xelbert said.

How can we fight these feelings?

Control things within your power

Although we still don’t know much about this virus, we do know that proper hygiene can effectively alleviate the disease. A good way to control your health is to be vigilant in terms of safety protocols, including social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands frequently. “This helps alleviate their anxiety, because they are doing everything they can to minimize the risk.” Exelbert said.

Communication is the key

If you do decide to get together with certain family members, please be as specific as possible about your pandemic concerns. Develop guidelines and ensure that everyone present understands your health and safety expectations.

Exelbert suggested some possibilities, such as requiring guests to isolate for a period of time before coming, take a temperature check, and observe masks and social distancing guidelines upon arrival. “If you decide to participate in the event, please do your best to comply with all the guidelines and pay attention to the safety of the participants,” she said.

Understand that you can’t control others

It is normal to hope that your loved ones will take care of themselves, but the definition of safety may be different for each of you. “When you open up to a social event with a lot of people participating, you are not always sure about the health procedures they follow, and your sense of control will be weakened.

“Combine the long-term stress and anxiety of the past few months with potentially complicated family relationships and you are likely to spend a stressful vacation.” Exelbert said.

Once you express your feelings and concerns, it is up to each of you to make the decision you think is best. This may be difficult, but be prepared for the possibility that these decisions may be inconsistent this year.

Be creative

If you decide to spend your vacation alone this year, you can spend time with your relatives in many ways even if you are not in the same place. “It is recommended that you still keep in touch, such as calling FaceTime or Zoom during this period to celebrate Events, or provide special meals in advance to be included in their special events.” Exelbert said.

What this means to you

Although this holiday this year may increase stress, there are some options to combat these feelings and the factors that induce them. Focus on the things you can control, including your own hygiene and plans that make you feel safest.

If you feel that traveling is not safe, please take advantage of the many virtual options we currently offer and come up with some creative ways to interact with relatives living in different areas.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means that you may receive updated information while reading this article. For the latest updates on COVID-19, please visit our Coronavirus News page.

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