“Celebrating Christmas in the midst of a Pandemic”

Christmas, despite the bright and beautiful decorations and the festive spirit, visiting with family and friends, enjoying the sounds and taste of the holidays, can be stressful in normal years. This year it may have added stress caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic. As many cities and states have issued different shelter in place rules to follow, many folks may feel the burden of not being able to be with family and friends. Taking part in the traditional activities may make it difficult to celebrate Christmas. Even with so many things going on around us can make it difficult to focus on Christmas. In this blog, therapists at SureHope wrote from their perspective celebrating Christmas in the midst of a pandemic.

Advice on Celebrating a Pandemic Christmas

Advice for celebrating Christmas during a pandemic. That sentence is one I never even dreamed of writing one day. This year has been full of challenges and even though much has changed it is good to recall what has not changed. In the truest definition of what celebrating Christmas is about it is celebrating Jesus Christ’s birthday. This year reminds us that we cannot plan on anything with definite certainty. Our plans are tentative, but the promises of God can always be depended on…even in a pandemic. Therefore, this Christmas celebrate the certainty, dependability, unchanging, and secure love of God that was perfectly given to each of us through his son being born to die for each of our sins. Merry Christmas! ~ Kelly Saylor

Earlier today I was talking to my wife and during some questions about next year that we do not have answers to she said, “we need to take some moments and list the things we are thankful for.” We then made plans to do that, but unfortunately that is unusual for us. In this year, we have all faced struggle that is uncommon in its commonality. The pandemic has impacted the entire world at the same time. With so much uncertainty, our bodies are wired to think about what is next and be preoccupied with the future. My hope for myself this Christmas is that I live in the present. When I find I am thinking about what is next, I want to return to what is. Isn’t it amazing how changing one word can change our life? To live most effectively in what is, we have to practice gratitude. Do not miss the practice part. As we practice gratitude, we are present in the now. That is all we are guaranteed and the place that hope washes over us in waves. My wish for you and me this Christmas is the experience of hope that only the birth of the Savior provides! Merry Christmas.  -Mike Vaughn

In a pandemic we may become “panicked “about what could be lost if we or someone we love as to get Covid. Instead of focusing on what we might be afraid of, take time to focus on all the many people, things and events we have been able to experience in the past years. Thankfulness can be a pathway to drown out fear. Merry Christmas!  -Susan Steier

My hope would be that this year, we all focus on simplicity—every year we hear the “Jesus is the reason for the season” quote, but it often does not take hold in our hearts with the scramble to travel, buy, do. Let us simply focus on Emmanuel — God WITH us, God in us, in a year where for many, God has maybe felt far. What ways have you felt Him near? Maybe it was during a moment of peace at the kitchen sink or in your spouse’s laughter which reminded you of joy. What we celebrate is the birth of our savior in the most unlikely, un-ideal of circumstances to bring hope. And hasn’t 2020 just been unlikely and un-ideal? This year, instead of seeing the year as lonely, empty, and “wrong,” and trying to do things to compensate, let us all simplify and see Christ as completing us through his coming. Merry Christmas!! Emmanuel is here. Merry Christmas – Mary Shea

It is important that through this Christmas season unlike any other, that self-care continues to be a priority. Optimal self-care is comprised of five areas: mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual. Below are some ways you can care for yourself during this Christmas season!
Mental: journal thoughts, turn off emails for a couple days, meditation, play Christmas music, use grounding techniques, a seven-day social media and/or news fast
Emotional: journal emotions, write three grateful statements each day, slow down and self soothe, watch a Christmas movie
Physical: exercise, walk, dance, aromatherapy, diffuse essential oils, baking
Social: video chat loved ones, make/write cards to loved ones, give to a charitable foundation
Spiritual: read the Christmas story, seek the Lord in prayer, worship.
You can use a mixture of these at the same time to care for yourself and your family or come up with a fun list of your own! Merry Christmas and let this season be one of restoration! -Callie Gross

No matter how you celebrate this holiday continuing with your traditions as much as you are able can help put some normalcy back into your lives especially when things feel so abnormal. With all the changes going on with travel not being able to spend time with family and friends, many people are finding ways to simplify their holiday celebrations. Keeping with traditions that have brought you happiness over the holidays can be an important factor in keeping anxiety and depression at bay. Doing the things with your family even with scaled down celebrations can help keep your spirits lifted. Simplifying your Christmas Celebrations can help remove the stress that can accompany many holiday celebrations but give you that peace and security we all need, especially in these unpredictable times. Merry Christmas -Jim Katsoudas

Our Hope

Celebrating Christmas in the midst of a pandemic may not be the ideal way to celebrate. Remember, even the first Christmas was marred by a massacre.
Reading from the Book of Matthew Chapter 2 verses 16 to 18:16 – “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.  Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” Matthew 2: 16- 18 (ESV)

So, as you celebrate this Christmas season and even when the world may seem so bleak and harsh, keep your focus on the “One” Christmas was created for, the One who overcame all adversity: Jesus Christ!
From our hearts to Your Hearts, we wish you a very Merry Christmas.

-From Jim Katsoudas and the therapists of Sure Hope Counseling & Training Center

https://surehopecounseling.com/jim-katsoudas-depression/