COVID-19 and Taming Holiday Stress

COVID-19 and Taming Holiday Stress

The holidays bring twinkling lights, dancing sugarplums and general merriment to mind, but perhaps this year more than ever, the season also has the potential to usher in plenty of stress and anxiety.


“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our everyday lives in many ways,” said Beth Wilmot, LMSW, Supervising Clinical Coordinator, Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Programs, Holland Hospital Behavioral Health Services. “The holidays are no exception, with some of our traditions being temporarily adjusted in light of our new realities.”


To experience more joy and greater peace of mind, here are some helpful tips:


  • Communicate clearly with your friends and extended family about your plans for the holidays and how your celebrations will be different this year. “Being away from our loved ones has been really hard, and will be especially hard during the holidays,” Wilmot said. “Remind those important to you that the difficult choice of being apart from them now brings the hope of spending many more holidays together in the years to come.”
  • Host a virtual gathering with friends and extended family. Video sharing and chatting isn’t the same as face-to-face visiting, but it’s still a fun way to stay connected to those you love.
  • Rather than expecting or striving for perfection, try letting go. Give yourself permission to relinquish control and accept the experience as it is with gratitude.
  • Create a new tradition—try decorating a wreath together or watching a favorite holiday movie.
  • Stick to a gift-giving budget, as online shopping can make it tempting and easy to overspend. Consider crafting a homemade gift as a family activity.
  • Take care of your mind and body by staying active to lessen fatigue, anxiety and sadness. Go for a walk, do yoga with an online video or head outside for an old-fashioned snowball fight.
  • Focus on spending quality time with your immediate family. Actively listen, without the distraction of your phone, TV or social media.
  • Just breathe. The simple act of reconnecting with your breath can bring peace and presence.
  • Don’t skimp on sleep and good nutrition. Indulge in some treats, but do it mindfully; chew and savor your food slowly, noticing the flavors and textures. Listen to your hunger cues and recognize fullness. Release any feelings of guilt.


“2020 is a year many of us may want to forget,” Wilmot said, “but this time has also offered some meaningful lessons—like reflecting on what our family and friends truly mean to us. Even during a global pandemic, the holiday season can be a safe, special and memorable time.”


Treating people of all ages in a comfortable and confidential setting, Holland Hospital Behavioral Health Services is dedicated to delivering personalized, compassionate mental health care.

Healthy Life Category