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  • Jaime Goldstein

Reduce Stress Over the Holidays During COVID

What comes up for you emotionally with the holidays this year?

For many of us, our holidays during COVID will look very different than in previous years. Some of us may not get to spend time with family members who are usually part of our holiday traditions. Some of us won’t get to travel like we typically do over the holidays. Some of us may end up spending the holidays alone due to the circumstances of this year. Many of us are experiencing financial stress. Places we are accustomed to spending holiday traditions may be closed. Holiday parties may be on a pause this year. There’s a lot that’s different about this year, and a lot of emotion can come up around that.

First off, know that all emotions are valid and ok. Three are no wrong emotions to feel. Do you ever feel guilty or shameful for feeling sad or disappointed when you know so many others in the world are suffering more than you? This is important to hear because guilt and shame don’t do anything supportive to serve you. You can simultaneously have compassion for the suffering of others and give yourself permission to feel whatever emotion you are authentically feeling. I just share this to offer you the invitation to release any guilt or shame around whatever emotions you experience over the holidays. I’m someone who feels emotions very deeply, and this mindset shift has been so supportive to move me out of stuck emotions.

This year has been a year unlike any other, and that may also apply to our holidays. And on top of that, we are in a time of uncertainty as many states have added new mandates and restrictions over Thanksgiving week, and the news floods us with speculation about possible new mandates here in Texas.

So how do we reduce stress over the holidays during this COVID time utilizing mindfulness?

1. Make self-care a priority.

When you find yourself in emotional overwhelm or stagnation, make self-care a priority. Pause and notice what emotions you are experiencing and where you feel the emotions arising in your body through your somatic sensations. Place your hand on your heart and take a few slow breaths to help clear your mind. Acknowledge that you are in a difficult moment and offer yourself a word of support. Ask yourself, “What do I need right now to support me through this moment of challenge?” If it’s something that you can offer yourself in the moment, like a cup of warm tea or a short walk outside, go for it! If it’s something that’s not accessible in the moment, identify a specific time you can give yourself the self-care you need. Put it in your schedule, set a timer on your phone, write it on a sticky note, etc. Make it a priority. You’re worth it. Say it out loud with me now, “I am worth it!”