If you have made the difficult decision to not travel during the holiday season due to COVID-19, you can be faced with a number of emotions. Missing out on the childhood and family traditions that accompany the holidays can be painful. Here are three steps towards dealing with not going home for the holidays.
Acknowledge your feelings
It’s important to acknowledge any feelings you may be experiencing, not only as you inform your loved ones of your plans, but also as you yourself start accepting the reality that you will be celebrating in a different way and perhaps in a different location. There is no right or wrong way to react to any situation; this includes not being able to head home for the holiday season. You may feel sad, angry, or irritable, or maybe it seems bittersweet. No matter what you are experiencing, take care to acknowledge your feelings and refrain from judging them.
Communicate your decision
Acknowledging your feelings is essential, but communicating these feelings is also critical. While everyone may be aware that traveling is discouraged this holiday season, that does not mean everyone will agree with your decision. So, when you share the news that you plan to remain at home, be aware that you may receive some pushback. That frustration, even if it is directed at you, is largely a reflection of how difficult a year 2020 has been.
Create a plan
Being able to acknowledge and communicate your plans, especially with those closest to you, can help with the transition and assist in redefining holiday traditions. If this is the first time or your tenth time that you will not be heading home for the holidays, the below tips and suggestions may be helpful as you begin your own, brand new holiday customs:
- Plan an “alternate” holiday for you and your loved ones. Sometimes, it can be just as exciting knowing you will still be able to participate in the family fun, just maybe not on the specific holiday.
- Perhaps you can recreate in your home what you would be doing with your family. Reinvent some of those memories in your own home, perhaps with your significant other, your roommate, or even a pet!
- Even if you can’t physically be with your loved ones, technology can come in handy. Try using Skype, FaceTime, or other social media. Sometimes just hearing familiar voices and sounds can make you feel as if you were there with family.
- Maybe it’s too painful to reminisce with those you can’t be with. If this is the case, try distracting yourself during high levels of holiday festivities that may fuel homesickness or heartache. Perhaps that means taking up a new hobby or focusing on a project.
- Try volunteering! Helping those less fortunate than yourself not only can provide a distraction, but can help you identify with something bigger than yourself.
No matter how you choose to spend the holidays, you have control over how you respond to your emotions. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support and talk about how you are dealing with the stress of the season.
Disclaimer: This document is intended for general information only. It does not provide the reader with specific direction, advice, or recommendations. You may wish to contact an appropriate professional for questions concerning your particular situation.
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