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Social Isolation This Holiday Season

Dr. Joti Samra

December 4, 2020

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Social Isolation This Holiday Season

For many people, the holidays mean spending time with friends and loved ones – often in large groups – or travelling back home. It’s likely that many holiday traditions may not be possible this year because of the pandemic. No one wants the holidays to be cancelled, but experts do not recommend gathering in large groups especially with those outside our household or who are not in our ‘pod’. So, how do we manage social isolation this holiday season? 

Re-imagine the Holidays

That being said, we have realized, more than ever, how important social connection is for our mental well-being. So, here are some ways we can re-imagine the holidays.

  1. Take small get-togethers outside. We know that it is safer to meet outside than in our homes. It might be cold out but grab your winter gear and head outside for socially distanced meetups. Make sure to keep the group size to a minimum, wear a mask, stay socially distanced, and engage in hygiene protocols including hand washing and sanitizing. 
  2. Do other activities rather than sharing a meal. We cannot wear a mask when sharing a meal, so consider doing other activities outside such as going for a walk. 
  3. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol impacts our decision-making skills and decreases the likelihood we will continue to adhere to strict social distancing and hygiene protocols. So, consider skipping the cocktails and opt for other beverages. 
  4. Find creative ways to gather online. For many of us, in-person gatherings of any size may not be possible or safe, so take the gatherings online. Video gatherings can be awkward and challenging at times, so get creative and maybe consider having one person be ‘in-charge’ with bigger online gatherings so it’s easier to manage and everyone is not talking over one another. 

Creative Ways to Gather Online This Holiday Season

It’s time to get creative so we can make the most of this holiday season and stave off some of the loneliness we are expected to experience. 

  • Watch your favourite holiday movie together online
  • Have a cooking or baking competition
  • Decorate the Christmas tree together, or engage in any other holiday tradition together
  • Have everyone bring something to the video chat to share/talk about. For example, your favourite Christmas ornament, something that makes you happy during the holidays
  • Be brave and do some karaoke 
  • Have a game/trivia night

Managing Loneliness and Social Isolation this Holiday Season

Loneliness is something that a lot of people experience during the holidays regardless of the year, but this year many more people are going to feel this way and may not be prepared to deal with these feelings. Know that it’s okay to feel lonely, even if you connected in some way to family and friends, this year is different and it’s likely to impact us all in some way. 

Here are some tips to manage loneliness this year:

  1. Know you’re not alone. Even if you are physically distant from those you care about, you are not alone. You are also not alone in the way you feel.
  2. Have realistic expectations. This holiday season is going to be different, that’s a guarantee. So, don’t expect it to be the same, or even feel the same. Be realistic about what the holidays are going to look like this year so you aren’t left feeling let down. 
  3. Find some positivity in solitude. Find positivity through self-care and spending quality time with yourself. Put away your phone and find a way to do something nice for yourself – take a bubble bath, try a new recipe or make your favourite meal, read your favourite book or do something creative. 
  4. Maintain an attitude of gratitude. When we’re feeling lonely it’s easy to focus on the negative emotions, but there are still things to be grateful for. Read more about maintaining an attitude of gratitude during COVID.
  5. Connect. It’s important to stay connected, even if it’s only virtually, this winter. Reach out to those you care about and if you’re struggling, let them know how you feel. 
  6. Give to others. It can make us feel good to give to others or support organizations we believe in. This year is going to be harder both emotionally and financially for a number of people, so if you’re able, consider giving this year. If you aren’t able to give money, you can also find other ways to support – like going through your closet and donating any clothes you never wear. 
  7. Stay active. Our physical health is connected to our mental health and exercise will help to keep us mentally resilient this winter. 

Final Thoughts

Remember that even though we are socially isolated this holiday season we are all going to get through it. All we can do is try to make the best of it even if it is challenging. Try to enjoy the season and our loved ones in creative ways, and take care of ourselves. 

If you’re feeling particularly lonely or isolated this year and feel like you have no one to talk to, consider reaching out. Our clinical practice group, Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych. & Associates is accepting new clients for online video counselling, contact us if you need support. 

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