Tips for Handling the 2020 Holiday Stress


The holidays can be a stressful time during a regular year, but, as with everything, 2020 adds a new layer of complications. Not only do you have to worry about your uncle starting an awkward conversation, but you also need to worry about everyone leaving the gathering safely without catching COVID-19.

So how can you handle your normal levels of anxiety on top of the added COVID concerns? Here’s a list of things you can do to keep yourself sane and safe.

Get tested before you leave

While you can’t control COVID, you can take control of the safety measures you exercise during the holidays. If you choose to go home for the holidays, get tested before you leave. You need to make sure that you are only bringing yourself, not a deadly disease. Make sure you are following the protocols not only set by your state’s governor, but by the state you are visiting as well. Try to make sure everyone in the home gets tested as well.

Take every safety precaution

When you arrive, make sure they and you maintain a safe distance between yourself and those who have not been tested. Avoid hugs and handshakes, choosing instead to say kind words as a warm welcome. When someone comes over to visit the house, wear a mask, and keep your distance. If it’s not your home, you may not feel like you have the ability to instruct others how to conduct themselves. However, you can always choose to take control of your health and your safety. Wash your hands often and wipe down commonly touched items like doorknobs and sink handles.

Think of safe conversation topics

With all the political and social division, there’s likely to be a family member who wants to take the conversation to a volatile place. Try to plan ahead for these moments so you can safely guide the discussion back towards neutral territory. Think of common ground you share apart from talks of politics; if you both love dogs, ask about their new puppy or tell them the story of the trouble your corgi got into the other day.

Take breaks

Spending time with family you haven’t seen in a while can get really overwhelming, especially with the added stress of potential COVID exposure. Excuse yourself from the conversation and find someone else to talk to, refreshen your drink, or use the restroom. You could retreat to your room under the excuse that you need to make a call to a family member in another state. Take the time you need to breathe and recharge before heading back into the room.

Opt for virtual holidays

If you decide that visiting with all the restrictions would be too much to handle, you are well within your rights to stay home. It’s better to miss one holiday than have someone missing from every holiday in the future. If your visit is going to be marred by your anxiety that someone could get sick, you’re much more likely to enjoy the safety of your home and a video call with your family during the holiday meal. Choose to order gifts online and send them to your family so they feel like you’re there with them. Write thoughtful letters to keep in touch as much as you can. When the world is safe again, cherish the time you do get to spend together without worrying about spreading sickness.

What plans do you have to keep yourself safe and sane this holiday season? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Author, Artist, Photographer.

Sarah Margaret is an artist who expresses her love for feminism, equality, and justice through a variety of mediums: photography, filmmaking, poetry, illustration, song, acting, and of course, writing.

She owns Still Poetry Photography, a company that showcases her passion for capturing poetic moments in time. Instead of poetry in motion, she captures visual poetry in fractions of a second, making cherished keepsakes of unforgettable moments.

She is the artist behind the Still Poetry Etsy shop, which houses her illustrations and bespoke, handmade items. She is the author of intricacies are just cracks in the wall, a narrative poetry anthology that follows a young woman discovering herself as she emerges from an abusive relationship.


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