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On top of the usual stress that comes with the holiday season, this year brings with it a host of additional sources of pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Holiday shopping will be impacted by restrictions on retail stores with limited capacity and limited hours. And some experts are predicting shortages of many items along with delivery delays due to an overwhelming amount of online orders. But perhaps the biggest cause of anxiety this year is the pandemic’s effect on our ability to get together with our family and friends to celebrate the season. Many state and city governments all over the country have set restrictions on both indoor and outdoor gatherings, and medical experts warn that this year holiday visiting should be limited, and that families should try to only celebrate with those in their own households.

What can we do to cope with the extra tension and strain of the 2020 holiday season? Here are a few tips:

  • Surround yourself with holiday cheer – There’s no denying that it will be a challenge to keep up with normal holiday traditions this year. But rather than letting that get you down, be on a mission to make the best of the situation and do whatever you can to create a festive environment. Decorate your home the way you always do. Play your favorite holiday music, watch holiday movies, bake cookies and wrap gifts. This will bring a sense of normalcy to the holidays and hopefully brighten your spirit.
  • Write letters – Since visiting will be limited this year, take some time to write letters to your family and friends and insert them in your holiday cards. While writing can’t take the place of in-person visits, it can definitely help you to stay in touch with those who are dear and update them on what’s going on in your life. Maybe it will even inspire some of them to write back.
  • Plan special meals – For many people, a big part of the holiday season is the traditional meals and desserts that their families have cherished and passed down from generation to generation. Don’t let the limited visiting this year stop you if you really enjoy cooking holiday meals. You can either make those holiday meals and desserts on a smaller scale for just those in your household, or you can choose to make them on a large scale and still share them with your family and friends by dropping care packages off or having them picked up. Again, surrounding yourself with all of the usual trappings of the holidays will help you to still enjoy the magic of the season.
  • Plan virtual visits – While you may not be able to gather with your loved ones in person, the next best thing is to use video conferencing or video phone calls. If you’re not tech-savvy, ask someone in your family who is to set up a video conference or video call for the group that would normally gather together in person on special days during the holiday season. If you want to know how to use Zoom, visit.
  • Volunteer – No matter how much the holidays may have you down this year, remember that there are always others who are having a tougher time. Consider donating some of your time to help those in need this holiday season. If you’re concerned about going out to volunteer, there are plenty of things you can do right from your home. Start by checking out this list of 9 Places to Volunteer Online (And Make a Real Impact) https://www.dosomething.org/us/articles/9-places-to-volunteer-online-and-make-a-real-impact.

For years many holiday movies and books have sent the message that the true meaning of the holidays is more than all of the gifts, decorations, and food. Perhaps this year more than ever, it’s time to really focus on that message and on the people in our lives who are most important to us. Here’s to making the best of the holidays in 2020, and to the hope that the holiday season of 2021 will bring even more reasons to celebrate.