How to Handle the 2020 Holidays Amid Covid-19, With Family or Alone
Ficken notes to try and stay as present as you can during these moments, and to try and keep yourself busy with some productive tasks. “Looking too far in the future can be overwhelming,” she says. “Asking yourself questions like ‘when is this going to end?’ is one that cannot be answered and only brings more stress and anxiety…. Creating structure will give you some control over your day which will help manage uncertainty as well as your stress and anxiety.”
Miller suggests a few tips for those who are in an unsafe environment during the holidays, including creating a “safe space” such as a bedroom or bathroom to escape to when tensions rise, setting boundaries, and creating a support system of friends and family members to contact. She also notes that virtual counseling and support groups, such as Mental Health America’s Inspire, are great resources.
If you are feeling unsafe during this season and are not sure what to do, Ficken suggests heading to thehotline.org. If you are worried someone might look at your internet searches you can call the hotline at 800-799-7233.
Handling in-person holiday gatherings
Some people are still throwing holiday gatherings, and you may be considering how to safely attend. If this is the case, Cassandra Pierre, an infectious disease specialist based in Boston, says the most important action to take is to get tested for COVID-19 before the gathering.
“Testing is the way to avoid unnecessary heartache, infection, and illness,” says Pierre. “I do feel like people need to be tested ideally within a few days.” Getting a test 24 to 72 hours before engaging with family members is ideal, so that you have your results back but they’re not outdated because you’ve been out and about.
Another tip Pierre suggests is to keep the family gathering outside, if possible, to allow fresh air flow and lower the risk of spreading germs. “I would certainly recommend having holiday gatherings outdoors as much as possible for better ventilation, lower risk of exposure, and infection,” she says.
If you’re going to a gathering that can’t take place outdoors, Pierre recommends following current social distancing guidelines and, most importantly, wearing a mask. “Wearing a mask and having everyone wear a mask is still a good protocol to take,” she says.