Wellness expert shares ways to manage isolation, loss of holiday rituals this season

November 22, 2020

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — As COVID-19 cases rise across the country, people are skipping their traditional holiday get-togethers in hopes of keeping everyone safe.

Just a day ago, the U.S. surpassed 12 million coronavirus cases after the reporting a record single-day increase -- 198,500 new cases -- on Friday.

Now the stress of holiday planning for the big event is replaced with the stress of coping with isolation, anxiety and the loss of our holiday rituals.

Robin Ross is a health and wellness instructor at the Soma Institute of Chicago. She sat down with WBBM to discuss how to manage those stresses.

WBBM: Robin, what can we do to mentally prepare for the stress of celebrating the holidays during the pandemic?

ROSS: I teach my students at the Soma Institute to always practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself this holiday season. Acknowledge your feelings. Are you sad, angry, lonely? Do not ignore how you feel. Give yourself room for that sadness.

Connect to purpose. Ask yourself what's most important right now. It’s important for our loved ones to be healthy and safe. You are spending time apart so the family has a better chance of celebrating together next year.

Next, try to reframe the situation. Reframe Thanksgiving by finding creative ways to reflect on and embody the true meaning of the holiday. Find ways to creatively connect with loved ones and create memories together in a virtual world.

WBBM: Why is planning ahead so important?

ROSS: Uncertainty about what you will do on the holidays will only heighten stress. You want to avoid meltdowns if possible. So, tell your children how this year’s holiday celebrations will be different and why. Think of ways that you can still safely come together as a family.

Some people may have virtual fatigue, but maybe you and Granny plan to FaceTime while cooking. You can also mail tokens of love to your friends and family like gratitude cards or gifts such as chocolate.

Creating moments like that are so important, especially for families who may also be mourning the loss of loved ones this year.

WBBM: What happens if we can’t virtually connect with our loved ones?

ROSS: Try to focus on the positive. This has been a tough year. Thanksgiving is a time to look over your year and find something that was good. Try to remember the moment for which you are most thankful.

Reach out for help! If you can’t shake that feeling, can’t find any joy, get help. Talk to a friend, family or mental health professional.

Holidays are notoriously hard on some people, even without a pandemic. It’s okay to recognize you need help and get the assistance you need.

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