7 Tips to Survive (and Thrive) the Pandemic Holiday Season

7 Strategies to Add Some Cheer This Holiday Season

Do you typically travel for the holidays? Do you celebrate with a big gathering of family and friends? Do you get swept up in the holiday cheer? If so, this year may look very different for you.

With the numbers of COVID-19 infections spiking, we’re being cautioned to avoid unnecessary travel, stick to small gatherings, avoid indoor restaurants, and more. It makes you wonder what there is to celebrate.

The holidays are typically a joyous time. But the anxiety, stresses, isolation, job losses, and depression from the ongoing pandemic are threatening to squash holiday fun. So how can you find a little happiness this year?

Here are 7 strategies to add some cheer this holiday season.

1. Focus on what you CAN do.

It’s so easy to get caught up in what you can’t do this year. But brain imaging shows that when you get stuck on negative thoughts, it fires up the emotional centers of the brain and makes you more likely to feel stressed, anxious, and depressed. Make a conscious effort to be grateful for what you can do.

2. Keep traditions alive.

Although you might not be able to hop on a plane to visit family in another state, you are still able to engage in a host of holiday traditions. Go wild with decorations, build a gingerbread house, or get creative with a family photo for holiday cards.

3. Start new traditions.

With everything up in the air this year, it’s the ideal time to create new traditions. Try a virtual cooking competition with friends or family, set up a scavenger hunt for presents, or find new ways to volunteer.

4. Eat right to think right.

The holiday season is a time when guilt drives many Brain Warriors to fall back into old habits that drive anxiousness and negativity. Family get-togethers can make you feel obligated to indulge in your Grandpa’s famous mashed potatoes drenched in butter and gravy, your sister’s green bean casserole with condensed mushroom soup and fried onion strips or your Mom’s apple pie with whipped cream. This year, take advantage of staying home and cook up a brain healthy feast, even if it’s just for one or two. You can always put the leftovers in the freezer. Eating good-for-you foods can help you keep stress in check, soothe anxiety, and promote a cheerier mood.

5. Take a break from family feuds.

Holiday gatherings often set the table for past hurts and emotional trauma to resurface, leading to arguments and drama. For some people, no matter how hard you try, the same stressful scenes play out each year. With big parties out of the picture this year, use this time to address unresolved issues from your past. Give yourself the gift of EMDR therapy, a non-invasive technique that helps overcome trauma, or work to get beyond your grudges.

6. Skip the eggnog.

Who says you have to drink alcohol to be merry? So many holiday events encourage drinking, and Americans typically double their alcohol intake over the holidays, according to a 2018 study. Drinking can help you feel better in the short-term, but in the long run, it ramps up anxiety, fuels depression, gives you brain fog, leads to poor decisions and bad behavior, makes you more likely to fight with loved ones, and is bad for brain health. Without all the parties this year, you won’t feel the pressure to drink seasonal cocktails.

7. Try a “Zoomsgiving” this year.

Can’t stand the thought of not seeing your favorite cousin, sibling, or granny? Connect quarantine-style on Zoom or another platform. Invite everyone to share some good news or to say what they’re grateful for this year. When you focus on what’s going right in your life, you’ll feel better fast, and it will last throughout the holiday season—and beyond.

Depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health issues can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever, and waiting until life gets back to “normal” is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time.

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. Oh man do I have alot going on..where do I start…I should be grateful but …things are out of wack here…my daughter in law is due any day with my grandson…my daughter had a boy in February right before the pandemic and went into isolation and i couldn’t see my grandson. My dog just got diagnosed with a tumor in her head had seizures now on medication…..Thanksgiving dinner was just me and my husband..and not sure what xmas will be like. Everything is up in the air and no certainty in the near future for anything I also found out I have osteoporosis…..this is making me feel so anxious and I try everyday to be conscious of all this so I try to keep positive but its so draining…need so advise.

    Comment by Mariann doublet — December 9, 2020 @ 4:39 AM

  2. wish I had the money to get my daughter evaluated

    Comment by anne kelleu — December 9, 2020 @ 6:36 AM

  3. That sounds like great advice! I would add staying active, especially getting regular exercise. Getting regular exercise has so many benefits, such as increasing energy, improving sleep, etc.

    Comment by Pamela K Orgeron — December 9, 2020 @ 8:38 AM

  4. I drink eggnog every year. I have never ever even thought to put alcohol in it.
    I hate alcohol and never drink it. But eggnog by itself is still good.

    I have no idea what percentage of people add alcohol to eggnog.

    I would be better to say do not drink alcohol.

    Comment by Michael Kullik — December 9, 2020 @ 9:37 AM

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