The Lonely Holiday Guide: How you can care for yourself and others during the COVID-19 holiday season

Skylar Saragusa, Reporter

The holiday seasons are coming up, which usually means it’s time to stock up on wrapping paper, take multiple trips to the store, and charge your credit card more than you should be. But most of all, it means getting to spend time with family as you gather around, eat, and talk about life. Unfortunately, that’s not possible this year. With COVID-19 cases hitting an all-time high, everyone is left stuck at home to celebrate on their own. With that in mind, it’s easy to remain sad and depressed as we think about all of the things we are missing out on. However, lets not let those thoughts get in the way of what’s truly important. Below are some things that you, and those around you, can do to care for yourself and others during the holiday season.


Caring for yourself:


1. Enjoy a nice holiday movie.

Whether you’re in the mood for a classic, such as A Christmas Story, or want something to match your emotions and frustrations toward life, such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas, it’s important to sit down every once in a while and get your mind off of things. Watching a movie could be just the right distraction and may even bring you some joy.


2. House Caroling.

Some do it in the shower, in a group, or go door-to-door, but many people share one love in common–singing. While Christmas caroling as we know it is not possible this year, having a live performance within your home could be just the thing you need (or cause the biggest headache of your life). In fact, research shows that singing releases endorphins and oxytocin, which are known to decrease stress and anxiety, according to LifeHack’s “11 benefits of singing you may not know”. So, if you hum a nice Christmas tune to yourself, or sing at the top of your lungs, you could experience great benefits.


3. Create a Self-Care Routine.

Between decorating, caring for others, and preparing for the holiday season, people often forget to care for themselves. Take time to write in a journal of self-love, meditate, stretch, workout, or make sure to brush your teeth and wash your face. No matter what you do, taking at least five to 10 minutes to remind yourself that you are important and loved can make life much more manageable.


4 Treat Yourself.

Buy yourself that pair of shoes you’ve always wanted, make yourself a nice cup of hot cocoa as you sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing, or sleep in more than you think you should. It’s important to treat yourself in a nice, relaxing way. 


5. Find a new hobby.

Since we are unable to get together this year, it may be the perfect time to discover a new hobby or try something new. There are a variety of ideas and hobbies out there for you to try and even more videos to learn how to do them. Who knows, maybe you’ll be really good at it. Either way, it’s important to experiment and try new things, even if it means finding out you don’t like something or moving from one hobby to the next.


Caring for those around you:


1. Set up a family Zoom call.

While it may not be the same as seeing your family and friends in person during the holidays and giving them a nice warm hug, seeing them on screen is the next best thing. Communicate with your loved ones and set up a time you can all get together to talk over Zoom. Maybe even set up a call over dinner so you can eat with one another. Regardless of what activities you pursue and the time of day you choose to talk, staying in contact with your loved ones is by far the most important thing you can do to put a smile on the face of you and your family.


2. Frequent Check-Ins.

Whether your family is big or small, set up a way for every family member to be checked-in on to make sure that everyone is safe and well. Since people have been stuck at home, depression rates have risen, as many have felt isolated or alone. This could mean sending a daily text or frequently calling your loved ones. Either way, it’s important to show them that they are cared for, loved, and never alone.


3. Drive-by celebration.

While it will never be the same as hugging your loved ones and spending the day with them indoors, if you have the ability, drive-by your family member’s house, give a nice wave, and say hello. It may seem silly and like a waste of gas, but even the smallest efforts can make the biggest impact. 


4. Ding-Dong Gifts.

Without being able to see family in person, it may be hard to give your family members the gifts you were excited to give them. However, there may still be a way. With proper sanitization and safety precautions, you could drop off the gift at their door, ring the doorbell, run to your car, and wait to see the look on their face as they open their door to a wonderful surprise. While Christmas is not about the gifts you give, they can provide a sense of joy and distraction from the sad feelings they may have had before.


5. Opening Up.

 This one may be more difficult, but try to talk to your loved ones about opening up to a therapist. A therapist may be able to help a relative sort through issues that others can’t. There may be a huge stigma related to therapy, but the truth is that everyone can benefit from it. There is nothing wrong with encouraging others to get the help and support they deserve.  It may not be possible to talk to one in-person, but they may be able to talk to someone over messaging or facetime calls.


This may not be the holiday season any one hoped for or wanted. However, if this year has taught us anything, it’s to be grateful for what we have and what we are. Show yourself and your loved ones that they are something to be thankful for by reaching out, giving support, and spreading joy. Together we can turn a lonely holiday season into a season of connecting and rejoicing.