How to Keep Pandemic Stress from Ruining Your Holidays
In the Before Times, a typical holiday season scenario might include gathering with friends and family around the Christmas tree or Chanukah menorah, elbowing your way through crowds of shoppers in a bustling mall, plopping the little ones down on Santa’s lap for a classic photo—or maybe traveling far, far away from the holiday hubbub to soak up some tropical sun.
This year, however, with the pandemic still raging across the globe and the economy on the fritz, Americans are anticipating a holiday season like no other. According to one survey, 68 percent of Americans expect to spend the Christmas/Chanukah season differently than they usually do this year. Another survey found that 27 percent of Americans plan to spend less on gifts this year compared to last year, with 54 percent of those saying they have less money to spend because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Having to rethink the “most wonderful time of the year” during a year that's been less than wonderful for most of us can cause a lot of added stress. But taking it one step at a time and looking for opportunities to create new meaning can help, says Angela Ficken, L.I.C.S.W., a Boston-based psychotherapist. “There is a lot of challenging stuff that can come up at the holidays,” she says. “Looking at the big picture can be overwhelming, so I tell people to think about slivers, not chunks.” She recommends focusing on one small piece of the holiday puzzle at a time, coming up with a few options, and then discussing those plans with your loved ones so everyone can get on board.