Those in the know believe the coronavirus pandemic will still be a pertinent issue during the upcoming holiday season. We should expect social distancing rules and mass gathering bans to be a factor. According to the Mayo Clinic, “the holiday season often brings unwelcome guests—stress and depression. And it’s no wonder. The holidays present a dizzying array of demands—parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few.” Add to that, the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, and our mental health can be deeply affected.
For most of us, traditions and rituals provide comfort; they tether us to our past and keep us aligned with future generations. And after all of the social isolation, which has taken a toll culturally, traditions are even more important for our mental health and wellbeing right now. It is vital that we maintain our customs, maybe with a twist or two, but nonetheless, we must not be daunted.
It’ll be different, but different doesn’t have to be depressing. Challenge yourself to fight off the malaise that the shutdown, quarantine, and isolation brought with it. Dig deep, tap into your mental resilience, and take back your sense of control. Make this holiday season one to remember for all of the right reasons!
“Big parties are likely out this Halloween,” says MetroHealth Dr. Nicholas Dreher, who specializes in internal medicine and pediatrics.
Trick-or-treating will have to be done using social distancing guidelines. Ideas such as trunk-or-treating or even reverse trick-or-treating might be great substitutes for normal festivities.
A version of a normal Thanksgiving may be within reach in some regions, however, it is more likely that we can enjoy a smaller family/friend gathering with what experts refer to as our “bubble,” those people with whom we have socialized through quarantine.
Christmas, Chanukah and New Year
Medical experts warn us that we may need to shrink our expectations as well as our guest lists. For those with family spread far and wide, traveling, especially by air, may be difficult. The Houseparty app and Zoom parties are options to get everyone together.
What else can we do to salvage the joy from the holidays and keep ourselves mentally and emotionally healthy? Be open to change and embrace your creativity! Bake Thanksgiving pies to drop off on a friend’s door step; schedule a time to watch the 25 Days of Christmas online with your besties; tune into YouTube for your religious services and participate from the comfort of your couch, in your PJ’s. Plan a ball-drop FaceTime party!
Remember these words from the wise Maya Angelou: “If it’s bad, it might get worse, but I know that it’s going to be better. And you have to know that. There’s a country song out now, which I wish I’d written, that says, ‘Every storm runs out of rain.’ I’d make a sign of that if I were you.”
Outreach Teen & Family Services  is a nonprofit, confidential counseling service. We offer programs to youth age 5 to 21, parents and families, in a welcoming, supportive environment. 412-561-5405. This column is partially underwritten by the Mt. Lebanon Police Association.