COVID-19: The Unwelcomed Guest
You didn't let it in, but you can't get it out!
From the desk of Bobby Jepson, EAP Counselor:
As we all can attest to, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much about the ways in which we live our lives, both collectively and respectively. I would even equate it to an unwelcomed guest who showed up to the house! Unfortunately, it is not as easy as evicting their presence from the home, and we have to do what we can to adjust to its presence.
One such change that we are preparing to experience is how this situation will affect the way in which we celebrate our respective holidays during the Winter season. This goes so far beyond the obvious question of whether or not to gather with family. Instead, we are faced with the decision whether we should even engage in the usual “hustle & bustle” that comes with these traditions.
Attached is an extensive article from the CDC that provides some counsel on keeping yourself and your family safe; but what of your mental health and stress? Also attached is a piece from USA Today, encouraging readers to connect with family members through virtual gatherings such as Zoom, as well as to consider new activities such as going outdoors. What of the anxiety that is customary for this time of year, whether you spend these times with family or alone?
I would like to add to that advice and suggest a different approach to your celebrations: try your best to remove the usual stress and anxiety that would usually come with this time of year. If your traditions involve a large meal, look into pre-prepared meal options. Your local grocer likely has some excellent dishes to pick up, or consider ordering food from your family’s favorite restaurant. This might even be a good opportunity to support small business. Also, if you engage in any form of gift-giving, maybe try something more simple such as a Secret Santa or White Elephant exchange. Doing so is fun and light-hearted, and can even be done over Zoom! If you do not have family to celebrate with, consider doing so with your friends or coworkers. An office party is a fun and appropriate tradition, which has such potential in bringing people together.
In the end, no matter what you decide or even what you celebrate, the Winter holidays revolve around family and friends. As my fellow EAP Clinician Hilary Boboshko pointed out, the hustle & bustle is all for nothing if precautions are not prioritized. The greatest gift that you can give to them is to do your part to keep everyone safe and well. Nothing will bring about more peace of mind during this time of year.
Winter is a difficult time-of-year for many, and the Holiday season may add to this distress. If this is the case for you, consider pursuing mental health. Speaking with a therapist about your feelings may be just the help that you needed. Also, see if your company offers an EAP service, which offers mental health at no cost to you.