Coping with the Holidays during COVID-19

The holidays can be a special time for families to get together to celebrate and reflect on the previous year. This year the holidays will look and feel a bit different due to the pandemic, especially for transplant patients and families who are at a higher risk.

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Many transplant patients and caregivers will miss out on holiday traditions, time with friends and family, and normal self-care practices due to the pandemic. This can cause increased feelings of isolation and stress during an already stressful time.

Self-care is critical during this time. Below are a few suggestions on how to manage the stressors you may face this season and ways to fight the winter-time and pandemic blues!  

Prepare:

  • Identify new traditions or modify old ones as a way to maintain some normalcy! For instance if you normally cook for a large group, maybe you can still prepare some of the meal and then make to-go containers for your friends or family to grab and go.   
  • Create a gift budget. Finances this year have been a struggle for most. Also consider handmade gifts or creative gifts to avoid over spending.
  • Organize a special activity or event with friends and family for a later time when gatherings are safely approved again. This may help your family by having something to look forward to.

Prioritize Self-Care:

  • Safely get outdoors. A little fresh air and movement each day can impact our bodies and minds in a great way!
  • Find and participate in online groups or classes. As our society has adjusted to virtual gatherings, more online opportunities have been developed. Try finding your favorite support group, fitness class online, or an online class to learn a new skill.
  • Be intentional. Try practicing mindfulness, deep breathing, or listening to your favorite feel good music once a day.
  • Allow space for grief and loss. Do not minimize your grief this holiday. Allow yourself to experience it and talk about it with your support system.
  • Be gentle with yourself. Recognize and reflect on what you have gone through this year and the changes you have adapted to.
  • Practice gratitude. Take time to acknowledge the good. Remembering what we are thankful for can do wonders on any rainy (or snowy) day!

Connect:

  • Use any form of communication and technology that you have access to & stay connected! For instance, keep regularly scheduled Zoom or Facetime calls with family and friends and put it on your calendar.
  • Ask for help. If you are struggling or need support, reach out. Identify a support person or resource and express your needs.

RESOURCES: If you or someone you know needs additional support, please utilize and share the resources below:

  • Caregiver Lifeline Program – support for transplant families: 267-546-9800
  • Support with Mental and/or Substance Use: SAMSHA National Helpline 1-800-662-4357
  • Domestic Violence:  1-800-799-SAFE
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-8255
  • Find Local Food Resources Near You: Philabundance.com / P: (215) 339-0900
  • Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255.

By Faith Osbourne, MSW
Gift of Life Family House Social Worker

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