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‘Throw Out the Rulebook’ To Get Through Pandemic Holidays, A Therapist Says

Even if you know, intellectually, that the holidays are not actually “the most wonderful time of the year” (and can, in fact, be incredibly stressful), coping with feelings of loneliness, guilt, anger, and despair during the month of December can be very challenging. And thanks to the ongoing pandemic, a lot of people are feeling bad right now. The news is bleak, pretty much everyone is stretched thin, and comfort and joy are in short supply, making it that much harder to muster the energy to celebrate — or even to reach out and ask for help.

NPR spoke to Andrea Bonior, a psychologist and author of Detox Your Thoughts: Quit Negative Self-Talk for Good and Discover the Life You’ve Always Wanted. Here are some of her best tips.

Lower your expectations, and keep an open mind about what a holiday should look like.
Our celebrations are likely going to look and feel different (or even…bad) this year — we’re living through a pandemic, after all.

“I think the first step is to throw out the rulebook,” Bonior says. “Really, so many expectations we have can make us feel worse.”

If you’re feeling guilty about not seeing family this year, remind yourself of all the reasons you’re staying put.
Bonior suggests keeping safety at the forefront of your mind, especially if you’re feeling bad about your decision to not see older relatives this year.

If you’re getting a lot of pressure to travel or to host a group of out-of-town relatives, Bonior says it’s a good idea to prepare a script that you can return to each time the topic comes up.

If you’re feeling more furious than festive, make a point to address the physical aspects of your anger before you do anything else.
A lot of folks are feeling angry right now — at family and friends who are choosing to attend large holiday gatherings, elected officials who aren’t doing more, whoever. If you find yourself on the brink of snapping at a stranger whose mask isn’t covering their nose, look for a safe way to release some of that pent-up aggression.

Find ways to reach out to others, and remember that you’re not alone in this.
Feeling lonely or isolated during the holidays is never easy, even in the best of years. But a lot of people are feeling that more right now, especially if they can’t easily gather with their chosen family.

Helping other people is one good way of pushing through feelings of despair, if you have the time or energy for it. If you’re worried about safety, consider volunteering virtually; if you’re short on time or money (or both), something as simple as writing thank you notes to people who have had a positive impact on hour life could lift your spirits (and theirs).

“If you need help, then you are deserving of help,” she says. “Period. Full stop.”

Excerpted from “‘Throw Out the Rulebook’ To Get Through Pandemic Holidays, A Therapist Says” on NPR. Read the full article online for additional details.

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Source: NPR | ‘Throw Out the Rulebook’ To Get Through Pandemic Holidays, A Therapist Says, https://www.npr.org/2020/12/08/944306618/throw-out-the-rulebook-to-get-through-pandemic-holidays-a-therapist-says | © 2020 npr

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