Due to COVID-19, this year’s holiday may be even more lonely. Here’s how to deal with it

Key points

  • The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges to the holidays.
  • Loneliness and seasonal affective disorder pose a real threat to mental health, especially when people cannot see their family members.
  • Technology can bridge the gap between families that cannot connect with their loved ones.

For many people, vacation can be a lonely time. However, this year there is an additional obstacle. With the closure of state debates, Americans are grappling with the challenge of creating memories and promoting unity without spreading COVID-19, which will prevent them from celebrating with their loved ones. In addition, more than 240,000 people have died, some of whom have lost multiple family members.

Lara Schuster Effland of LICSW, clinical director of the Pathlight Mood and Anxiety Center, said her clients are already worried. She explained, “Especially this year, we have really seen how important communication and contact are.” There is evidence that the incidence of depression and anxiety in the United States has tripled since the pandemic began.

The elderly are isolated in retirement communities or in their own homes, and parents of college students and young children may reconsider traveling to visit family members.A study in Journal of Pediatrics It has been found that children and young people under 22 are usually “silent spreaders” of COVID-19.

In order to control the pandemic, celebrations may be smaller than people are used to. Although the holidays may look different, they can still be festive and inclusive.

Keep communicating

Cheri Slack in New Jersey usually hosts large events on Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, she will adapt to the absence of many people in the family, including three children from out of state and her daughter deployed in the Navy.

“Thanksgiving is not a table for 12 people, but me and my husband. My child will not go home, and my father-in-law is undergoing dialysis and has breathing problems. The doctor asked him to stay at home,” Slack shared road. Instead, she will provide a light version of the traditional feast for her family.

“The saddest thing for me is that our whole family was here last Christmas. I was quarantined with a fever of 102.4. A few months later, I found out that I had COVID antibodies.” If this fever is indeed caused by COVID-19 Yes, then Slack’s decision to separate himself from his family might save lives.

Take advantage of technology

For families like Slack with relatives in out-of-state, technology is essential to help maintain family traditions. Many people will use Zoom to light up candlesticks and open Christmas gifts with family members with weakened immune systems on FaceTime. Nursing homes and retirement communities have been accommodating families who wish to communicate with isolated relatives.

Lara Schuster Effland, LICSW

Taking some time to really connect with someone, talking about common interests or good memories, even online, can help remind us of the good times and the things that make us happy.

— Lara Schuster Effland, LICSW

Schuster Effland said that when you feel the sadness of isolation, it is very important to keep in touch with your loved ones. She said, “Spending some time to really connect with someone, talking about common interests or good memories, even online, can help us remember good times and things that make us happy.”

Practice self-care

Each person’s coping style is different, and needs to be different depending on the person’s emotional and physical health. Schuster Effland suggests that for those who may not have major health problems, “spending time in nature will definitely help. Exercise, even a short brain-cleaning walk, can help you reset. Make sure to drink Enough water and trying your best to eat balanced food can also help you manage stress.”

Embrace intuitive eating

Nutrition scientist and Atkins nutrition communications manager, Dr. Jon Clinthorne, explained how this balance looks like, “Although food alone does not reduce the risk of depression, certain nutrients in food play a key role in promoting depression. Emotions. One of the main vitamins is vitamin D, which is very low in 30-40% of Americans. Foods rich in vitamin D include salmon, certain mushrooms, and eggs. ”

Clinthorne continued, “Another important nutrient for the brain is folic acid, a B vitamin that contributes to the production of neurotransmitters. Foods rich in folic acid include spinach and asparagus. A low-carbohydrate lifestyle is easy Including all these foods.”

Pay attention to your emotions and mindset

For those with seasonal affective disorder, self-care may mean seeing a professional for symptom management. SAD is a seasonal depression that spreads when it gets dark earlier and the temperature starts to drop.

For those struggling with seasonal depression, the elimination of symptoms may include prescription drugs, cognitive behavioral therapy, or vitamin D supplements, as the deficiency may be related to depressive symptoms. Artificial light is a common prescription for the treatment of SAD.

Amy Morin, LCSW

Maintaining a positive attitude will have a big impact on everyone’s feelings. Send a message saying that you are doing your best in this year’s situation.

—Amy Morin, LCSW

Amy Morin (LCSW), a psychotherapist and editor-in-chief of “VigorTip Mind”, emphasized the importance of positive psychology in these periods. “Keeping a positive attitude can have a big impact on everyone’s feelings. Send a message that you will do your best in this year’s situation.”

She also suggests developing an action plan for herself to help you keep your feet on the ground. “Make a plan in advance of how to spend the holidays, even if it means staying at home and watching movies by yourself. Knowing what you are going to do can eliminate some of your fears and ease your loneliness if you will be alone,” Maureen said.

Mitigate the potential impact of touch deprivation

It is also important to manage contact deprivation, as it may exacerbate feelings of loneliness. Research from the University of Miami shows that touch has physiological and biochemical effects. According to one study, “These effects include lowering heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol, and increasing oxytocin.” Without touch, like hugs before and after holidays, individuals may become depressed and suffer adverse health effects.

Studies have shown that it is beneficial to massage yourself. Vibration can also potentially avoid the negative effects associated with being alone and contact deprivation. Earlier this year, the wearable Apollo Neuro made its debut, which uses vibration to regulate emotions and relieve anxiety. It is currently being tested in research-supported clinical trials as a tool to relieve the symptoms of refractory PTSD.

Touch deprivation can also be relieved with a weighted blanket, which is often used to combat anxiety and depression. Weighted blankets may be a more affordable option, which is helpful for people with sensory processing disorders and autism.

Practice gratitude

Schuster Effland says that practicing gratitude every day can get you out of routine. She explained, “Focus on what you are grateful for, you can savor and enjoy the moments and try new things. If we can embrace what we have and invite new things into our lives, no matter what that might be. , Then it’s enough to feel more relaxed and brighter. Think about it and even write down what you have and what you are grateful for.”

Practicing gratitude may also seem like giving back, because volunteering is another meaningful way of looking at things. Many studies confirm that voluntary service can improve overall health and well-being.“If there is a way to give back, whether it is donating time or money, it can also make us feel more connected to the world and more positive.”

Try new activities and get creative

Gaby Sundra is a husband and wife consultant and the co-founder of “Relationship Fun & Games”. She emphasized that whether you are single or in a relationship, games are an important tool to fight loneliness. She explained: “Isolation can give you time to enjoy the much-needed rest time, and whether it is online or face-to-face games, it has been proven to improve concentration, sleep and creativity.”

Lack of play in interpersonal relationships can lead to loneliness, irritability, interpersonal conflict and depression. Her suggested activities include joining online communities for individuals with common interests, learning new things, and having virtual game nights with friends or family.

Gaby Sundra, relationship coach

Isolation can give you time to enjoy the much-needed rest, and both online and face-to-face games have been proven to improve concentration, sleep and creativity.

— Gaby Sundra, relationship coach

Holiday activities, even if they are carried out in different homes, can still include those who have been quarantined. Sundra suggests: “Explore your creativity. Could you have a poem or a painting in your heart? There are many free courses online now. Hold a craft challenge virtual party. Send a supply list to your friends and family and where Get them everywhere, arrange time, participate in video conferences and make them together.”

Many DIY workshops are now conducted in a virtual way, and some stores are selling kits sent by mail with instructions. Companies such as Huahua and AR studios have had to adjust their business models due to the pandemic, and are providing toolkits for private parties and even Zoom parties. Making decorations and even baking cookies under the leadership of grandmother can be a fun and socially distancing activity.

Accept reality and find a silver lining

Although her family may not be able to travel, Cheri Lockett has been trying to be positive about this year. On the contrary, this year’s challenge may create a new and interesting tradition.

She explained: “Our home is scattered all over the country, but we can still enjoy some family fun. Our annual gingerbread house competition is now virtual, and each contestant must get a pre-assembled from a store near them. Good gingerbread houses. Then we will decorate them on December 12th and share them through Zoom, and then we will vote through social media next week.” Lockett’s children are now all grown-ups, so she expects this new tradition to be in They continue to exist when they leave home.

This positive outlook is helping her cope with a situation where she may not visit her 80-year-old father and stepmother.

What this means to you

Despite social distancing requirements, vacations can still be fulfilling. This year may require more planning and the use of technology to make loved ones feel connected and reduce loneliness. As always, if you are experiencing difficulties with your mental health, please do not hesitate to seek help or contact a mental health professional.

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.


Due to COVID-19, this year’s holiday may be even more lonely. Here’s how to deal with it
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