Finding Joy in Celebrating the Holidays Alone During COVID-19

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Posted by Rachael Tom

The holiday season is upon us again and that often means big family gatherings, tables overflowing with food and family members. But many people will be spending the holiday season in solitude because of COVID-19 concerns or because they live far from their families.

Alone doesn’t have to mean lonely, though. Here are a few suggestions to help make your holidays brighter — no matter what size your celebration is.

Video visits: One good thing to come out of this era is that many of us learned how to use tools like Zoom, Facebook Messenger, Apple FaceTime, or other video call software. Today, video calling programs are easier than they used to be, but if you need help, the person on the other side of the call may be able to set it up for you.

Just go low-tech: Technology isn’t everyone’s thing but your phone still works! “Reach out and touch someone,” as phone commercials used to say. A spontaneous one-on-one call can lead to deep, meaningful conversations and a coordinated group phone call can be a fun way to catch up with multiple people at once.

Or even lower-tech: Write letters or send cards to loved ones far away. In this era of mostly electronic communications, a handwritten greeting will stand out and mean a lot to the recipient — and you might get a letter or card in return! If you are writing to a young person (such as a grandchild), you may want to include a self-addressed stamped envelope they can use when they write back to you.

Plan for the year ahead: Take some time as the year draws to a close to reflect on everything that happened and what you want to do next year. You may even want to gather your thoughts in a journal so you can refer back to them later.

Be thankful for the memories: Many people are missing loved ones who have passed away. The first holiday season can be particularly hard. But you may find comfort in looking through photos or videos of your loved ones, smiling at fond memories and even imagining what they would say about the latest news event or celebrity gossip item if they were here.

Treat yourself: Buy yourself some special treats or gifts, wrap them up and open them on the holiday. If you are grieving a lost family member or friend, set aside a little money to buy yourself something they would have wanted you to have.

Get in touch with your wild side: If you are able to go for a walk and get fresh air, that can lift your spirits. Even if you can’t do that, maybe there is a window in your home that gives you a beautiful view outdoors. There are also nature videos on YouTube, like this 3-hour compilation of lovely places and a variety of virtual nature walks

TV with a twist: Most of us are pretty used to having TV shows and movies on, but special programs were once a big event! Recapture some of the magic by planning to see a special show at a certain time and maybe even coordinating a meal and outfit that goes with it. Cook or order Italian food while you watch “The Sopranos” or have Greek food to go with “Mamma Mia!” The possibilities are endless — and there’s no limit on the number of nights in a row you can do this!

Do what YOU want to do: As much as we love our friends and family, their tastes aren’t the same as ours, so take advantage of this alone-time to eat your favorite food, watch a movie that someone else might think is silly, take a nap in the middle of the day or read books and magazines uninterrupted.

Help others: Many people find that volunteering lifts their spirits. This time of year, food kitchens, food banks and toy drives can use a helping hand. If getting out of the house is difficult for you, call your local charities and churches to see if there are ways to help from home, such as baking a pie for a bake sale or knitting hats for people experiencing homelessness.

Make a furry friend: Even if you can’t make a long-term commitment to a pet right now, there are plenty of puppies and kittens who could use a few weeks of foster care. Contact animal shelters in your area to see how you can help.

Learn about others’ holiday traditions: Do you have friends or neighbors who celebrate different holidays than you? Research their traditions online or at the library and surprise them next time you see them with what you’ve learned.

Use Carina to help find backup care: If you receive home care and your usual provider is going to be out of town for the holidays, check out Carina to find someone to help you while they’re gone. If you are a care provider, adding a client may help you feel less lonely. Both providers and recipients can use Carina profiles to match with someone who shares interests and hobbies, which can lead to a meaningful connection and companionship.

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