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How to Cope with Physical Distancing During the Holidays

As the holidays quickly approach, it’s clear this year is a little different from past holiday seasons – we’re still adjusting to a “new normal” because of COVID-19.

Limited social activities and physical distancing requirements mean many people will spend the holidays away from loved ones. This lack of social connection can have an impact on mental health and well-being. In fact, a 2020 Cigna National Survey found that 61% of working adults feel increasingly isolated, compared to only 12% in 2018. This year, it’s even more important to protect your mental health and well-being by finding ways to celebrate while staying safe.

If you’re in a situation where you cannot see loved ones in person this holiday season, technology can come to the rescue. There are a number of ways you can still stay connected to friends and family – group chats and video calls are great places to start. Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp and other platforms are free and easy ways to help you connect with your loved ones at a distance. You may want to plan a holiday-themed video call with your loved ones or a virtual movie night (like a Netflix Party).

You can also celebrate the holidays by decorating as you normally would. Maintaining a routine can foster a sense of normalcy, and holiday decorating can be a great place to start. If you typically hang holiday lights or listen to holiday music, do it. If you buy holiday- or winter-themed candles, buy and light them. If you look forward to a certain dish every year, try making it yourself. Whatever your holiday traditions are, try to preserve them this year.

The holiday season has traditionally been a time to give back for those who are able, and the need is greater than usual this year. Even though we are encouraged to stay physically distant, you can stay connected to your community by volunteering or donating to a charitable cause this season. Food banks are always taking donations and many places can offer contactless drop offs. Local organizations may even need help with delivering meals or volunteering for clothing drives. Doing something good for your community can help you stay connected to other people and also make you feel good.

And if this time of year still doesn’t feel quite right, try practicing self-care. We know this holiday season may not be easy, but your mental health and physical safety should be a priority. Implementing self-care is a great way to foster your well-being and instill a feeling of optimism. Everyone’s self-care looks different, but some good places to start are getting enough sleep, exercising and journaling.

This holiday season may look a little different this year, and that’s OK. If you find yourself feeling especially sad, stressed, or anxious, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, mental health professional, or faith leader for guidance as you navigate these unprecedented times. You can also use these tips to #BeTheDifference this holiday season while staying safe, happy and healthy.