A year ago few would have predicted we'd be spending the 2020 holiday season deep in the midst of a pandemic, yet here we are. Fortunately, this doesn't mean we can't find ways to enjoy the holidays with our loved ones.

Whether your family is gearing up to celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas or some other tradition, here are five things to keep in mind during this special holiday season.

Preparing for Happy & Healthy Holidays

1. Check on Your Loved Ones

The holidays are a common time of year for people to feel lonely or miss pets or people who have passed on. And we may see even more mental health issues during the 2020 holiday season, since COVID-19 will prevent many people from being able to get out and socialize.

This fall and winter be sure to reach out to your neighbors, loved ones and colleagues. If you're concerned about someone, let them know. Consider doing small favors for them, such as shoveling their driveway or picking up groceries. Even simple gestures can make a big difference.

One positive take-away from the pandemic is that small acts of kindness and the gratitude that results really are a two-way street. You help make someone’s day a little better, and you feel better and more connected as well. It’s a real way to feel connected in a time of isolation.

2. Take Advantage of Video Technology

If you're going to avoid big family get-togethers this holiday, use video meeting options like Zoom, Skype or FaceTime. These technologies make it easier to "be with" loved ones, even if you can't be together physically. Try hosting a holiday cocktail hour on Zoom, or plan to have your holiday desserts together via video. Seeing everyone’s wonderful creations (maybe a prize for the best looking?) will generate some holiday spirit.

3. Travel Safe

If you travel during the holidays, follow some simple steps to stay healthier wherever your journey takes you:

  • Whenever possible, keep at least six feet of space between you and others
  • Wash your hands regularly, and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water aren't available
  • Wear a face mask
  • Check usa.gov/state-health for information about the COVID-19 virus for the states you are traveling through as well as your destination. Many states have quarantine mandates or pandemic-related restrictions – be aware of them!

4. Give Back (Now More Than Ever)

Between lockdowns, job losses and illnesses, there are many families in this country dealing with unusual hardships right now. Perhaps this even includes your own family or people in your community.

If possible, find ways to support your local business owners and give to others. Research shows that volunteering and being of service can actually boost mental health, so your efforts to help others will be good for you, too! Here are a few ideas:

  • Donate nonperishable food items to your local pantry
  • Donate money to local charities and nonprofit organizations
  • Buy a round of snacks or food for your local healthcare workers
  • Buy gift cards to local shops and restaurants that can be used later (especially if they're temporarily closed or if you don't feel comfortable visiting them right now)

Does your family need help? Don't hesitate to reach out.

5. Keep Yourself Healthy

There are many things you can do to strengthen your immune system and stay healthy this holiday season. Feel free to indulge in holiday treats, but remember to prioritize nutrient-dense whole foods in your diet, drink plenty of water, get adequate sleep and exercise.

Joy, laughter and connection are also immune boosters – but not if we stress ourselves out trying to make the holidays picture-perfect. This year may be an appropriate time to create new, less stressful expectations and traditions among your family and friends.

And remember: respect others. If you're feeling unwell, stay home, and call your local public health department if you're concerned about signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

Stay Healthy This Holiday with SIU Medicine

Whether you're due for a check-up or have a health concern that you'd like help addressing, SIU Medicine is here to help. Contact us at 800.342.5748 to schedule an appointment now.

Topics: COVID-19