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’Tis the season to celebrate. It’s the time of year when we reconnect and reflect on the gifts of friendship, family and connection — to feel thankful for who and what means the most.
Last year, the advice from the medical community was to reconsider traveling and spending face-to-face time with family in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We made sacrifices and looked forward to better times in order to keep each other safe and healthy. How is this year similar and different from last year, and how should we plan our celebrations?
Coronavirus is still spreading and impacting many lives. It’s still wise to take every precaution necessary to protect you, your family and others as we celebrate the season.
Here are some ways to enjoy the holidays to the fullest while also keeping ourselves and others healthy.
1. Plan and prep with precautions in mind
For all gatherings aside from immediate family members who live with you, be sure to follow social distancing guidelines. To maintain a safe social distance from those who don’t live in your household, the CDC has updated its guidelines for 2021:
- Arranging seating to be at least 6 feet apart
- Gathering outside, if possible
- Getting your COVID-19 and flu vaccinations
- Keeping gatherings to a reasonable size, such as 10 people or less
- Opening windows for increased ventilation if you’ll be meeting indoors
- Traveling only if fully vaccinated, but if unvaccinated, try to travel by car or on shorter flights
- Wearing masks if you’ll be sitting or standing less than 6 feet apart
Social distancing doesn’t have to cramp your style. Gatherings with safe COVID-19 precautions can still be festive and fun.
2. Use technology to gather
If you or someone you love is high risk and you must be physically separated during the holidays, using technology, such as video chat, phone calls and text messages, can help bring everyone together and ease feelings of isolation.
There are many social media and videoconferencing platforms, such as Zoom, FaceTime, Skype and WhatsApp. Choose the one you like best and select a time during the holidays to connect with everyone for a chat, board game or other festive activity.
With video chats, you can even expand your circle by inviting distant relatives and friends from all over the world into the holiday fold. There’s no limit to whom you can catch up with on your device. Consider reaching out to others who are in a similar situation.
The CDC still advises that virtual gatherings are the safest at this time.
3. Consider volunteering
If you find yourself alone this holiday season, volunteering to help those less fortunate can be a source of comfort and a useful strategy to ease loneliness. Since the holidays are associated with delicious food, why not contact your local food bank to learn how you can help? There may also be volunteer opportunities to shop for presents or collect winter clothing.
4. Exercise to boost your mood
There’s nothing like exercise to brighten your outlook and help manage holiday stress. The CDC recommends taking care of your body with regular exercise. Life can be busy during the holidays, but even parking a bit farther away from the store entrance to squeeze in a few extra steps may help boost your well-being.
5. Take time out for yourself
Even if you can’t be with loved ones due to COVID-19 precautions, you may still have more to do than usual — such as shopping, decorating and planning meals. To help manage the stress of a long to-do list, be sure to take time to recharge. Try going for a long walk, reading a book or listening to your favorite music or podcast.
6. Comfort those who may be grieving
The holiday season can be especially painful for those who have lost a loved one. Maybe you are grieving yourself. If you can’t be with friends and family members to comfort them, be sure to reach out to check in and share warm memories about the person they have lost. If you feel comfortable, the American Psychological Association recommends mentioning the deceased, not avoiding the topic. This gives the grieving person permission to express their sad feelings, remember happier times and keep their loved one’s memory alive.
Feel Whole this Holiday Season
We wish you and yours a happy, healthy, safe holiday season. As you’re making new memories, proceed with care and know that we’re here for all of your health care needs. You can even seek convenient virtual care in the comfort of home.