Holiday Celebrations COVID-Style

Holiday Celebrations COVID-Style

Dealing with separation from family and friends

The decision to spend holidays away from loved ones can be a necessity during the coronavirus pandemic. For those who’re accustomed to celebrating the season with large family gatherings, the solitude that comes with COVID-19 can be a difficult adjustment.

“First, acknowledge that this is going to be a different kind of holiday,” said licensed psychologist Denise T. Dewhurst, Ph.D., Professor of psychology at Montgomery College. “Reach out to someone else you know who is also alone. Even a brief phone call benefit both of you.”

A little forethought into how one’s time will be spent will offer structure and can help manage feelings of loneliness, advises Dewhurst. “For some, this may be watching television, or reading. For others, it might be a hobby or craft.”

“Work on creating something, maybe baking, art projects, family genealogy project, a journal about your life,” added therapist Carol Barnaby, LCSW. “Take a virtual tour of somewhere you would like to visit.”

Practice gratitude, suggests Dewhurst. “Remind yourself of things you do have to be thankful for,” she said. Connect with family members virtually. Talking to one person or one group at a time might allow for better conversations, she said.

Video conferencing with family and friends, particularly during a meal, can allow one to simulate being together in person. “Talking and seeing others' faces is second best to being there and definitely will feel more like you're part of things than not,” said psychiatrist Gail Saltz, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine. “Make a dish that matches the dish of where you would normally be going. Eating the same food, while having conversation increases the enjoyment and sense of being together.”

Put on a mask and take a socially distanced walk or other outdoor activity, says Saltz. “It may not be the sit-down meal, but a safe masked, distant outside walk can provide some time together,” she said.

Reminisce about past holidays and envision those that lie ahead. “Spend a part of the day looking at photos privately of those you love and remembering fun and close times you have had together,” said Saltz. “Keep in mind that when this is over, you’ll resume making more memories together.”