Covid Holiday Stress and How to Cope
As was addressed in the articles Giving Wellness This Thanksgiving, and Gift A Massage for the Happy Holiday, holiday stress is real. For some, they’re more stressful than they are enjoyable. And for 2020 especially, this holiday season may be more trying than usual.
We’ve made it this far through a tough year, and that’s a very mild way to put it. We all need to relax, but that’s easier said than done. I’m writing a blog about stress relief tips, all the while stressed out for the weirdest Christmas I’ll (hopefully) ever have.
And now I’m asking myself, how do I even know this will be the weirdest Christmas I’ve had to date? On that note, what’s so wrong with a weird Christmas anyway? Maybe there will be some really powerful memories attached to this holiday, on behalf of just how weird it may or may not be. Hey, that was easy! I changed my perspective a bit, and I feel a little better! Well, for now anyway. Once I officially cancel my flight to Baltimore, I’ll probably feel the stress again. I, like many many others, won’t be seeing the family this year. I feel your pain, all of you in this same situation.
Tips to Cope with Holiday Stress
So, what can you do? Or, what can you at least try to do?
Be Prepared for Familial Clashes, but Don’t Judge
Let’s go back to Thanksgiving 2020, not long ago at all. Everyone I know, or at least spoke to within 48 hours of Thanksgiving Day, had to change their gathering plans. One of my friends was skeptical of her parents’ approach to Covid precautions, and for her own safety chose to cancel her dinner party. Another friend of mine originally had plans to attend a party but opted out when he realized more people had been invited. In both of these cases, everyone was understanding of one another and they’re all still friends. As far as I know, everyone had a relaxing (yet small) holiday.
Do you know what doesn’t make for a low-stress holiday? Judging one another about the right way to do Covid-holidays. I know, it’s really REALLY hard not to do for some families. Some people think the restrictions are blown out of proportion; some think we’re not being restrictive enough, and some haven’t left their basements since February. If you haven’t had a Covid fight with your family yet, I’m jealous of you. I’ll admit to stirring up quarrels over Covid-Christmas with my folks. We love each other dearly, but we also give each other heart attacks whenever we talk about Covid.
So how about, instead of playing a game of “Who’s Going to Have a Heart Attack First?”, we just calmly listen to each other. No matter how much you disagree with your loved ones on the matter, just try to keep things civil. If someone wants to be quarantined for the holiday, respect their wish. Likewise, understand where a loved one is coming from when they beg you to visit and say “it’s all blown out of proportion”.
Change Your Perspective
Remember when I changed my perspective a few paragraphs ago? I’m thinking about doing that again since it felt so nice the first time.
I’ll miss my parents, sisters, brother, and extended family this year for sure. I already do, as it’s been a year since I last saw them. But I’m now realizing how special this December has already been with just myself, my husband, and our dog. The three of us recently moved from Denver to San Diego, and this is my first-time seeing palm trees and beaches around Christmas time. It’s crazy cool!
So how about instead of focusing on what we’ve lost, we emphasize the memories we’re forming from this different holiday season? It will keep the happy chemicals surging and the stress hormones suppressed.
Take Care of Your Health
Eating well and getting adequate sleep is of utmost importance here. They’ll boost your immunity and keep stress levels low.
Speaking of eating, do you know which foods and herbs are shown to reduce stress? Matcha tea, sweet potatoes, artichokes, fermented foods, fatty fish, parsley, chamomile, tahini… ok, there are lots of them! Basically, anything high in magnesium, vitamin C, tryptophan, folate, omega-3, choline, or B12 should do the trick. I’m sure you can find holiday recipes that include any one of those!
And speaking of sleep, there are wintery ways to promote restfulness. Get yourself a heated blanket, place a few drops of cinnamon oil in a diffuser, and drink some chamomile tea when you curl up in bed!
Exercise is good too! Yes, release the endorphins! And do make time for self-care. Treat yourself to a holiday massage!
Know You’re Not Alone
Whenever I find myself stressed about this coming holiday, I remind myself that we’ve all been affected by the pandemic. And if a smaller Christmas party is the worst of my problems right now, I consider myself very lucky. It’s cliche (and you may be sick of all the banners in your neighborhood that say this), but we’re all in this together. You’re not alone.
Don’t Let The Holiday Stress Bring You Down!
Happy holidays, everyone! Stay happy, healthy, and let your loved ones know how loved they are.
Author, Licensed Massage Therapist
Katrina Jenkins graduated from Towson University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science and worked as a nurse’s aide briefly before pursuing her true passion. She graduated from the Massage Therapy Institute of Colorado in April 2016 with honors and completed the Touch of Healers Scholarship Program the following summer. She has been a part of the Moyer Total Wellness Team since the summer of 2017.
Kubala, MS, RD, Jillian. “18 of the Best Stress-Relieving Foods.” Healthline, 8 June 2020, www.healthline.com/nutrition/stress-relieving-foods. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.
Canva by grinvalds