Surviving the holidays in 2020

By: U.S. Pain Foundation staff

We have all been told over and over again that the holidays are going to be different this year, just like everything this year has been.

For individuals living with chronic pain, smaller, less demanding events might be just what you need. Big or small, the holidays can be stressful, so the staff at U.S. Pain Foundation is offering up its favorite tips and tricks for surviving the holidays as people with pain.

Note: As COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to rise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has urged individuals not to travel this year and has repeatedly said the safest way to celebrate the holidays is to celebrate at home with the people you live with. To learn more about safely celebrating the winter holidays this year, visit the CDC’s website.

  1. Be patient with yourself. Nothing is going to be perfect this year or any year, so be gentle with yourself and realistic about your expectations.
  2. Prepare your meal a day before your celebrations so you can enjoy the day with less stress and take breaks throughout the day if you need to.
  3. Send cards to the family members you usually spend the holidays with, that way they know you are thinking about them.
  4. Take pictures of and share your favorite holiday traditions online to share with everyone you love. Trying to continue in as many traditions as possible will allow you to still share the memories and meaning of the traditions in a slightly different way.
  5. Put up some decorations at home and drive around your area to look at everyone’s lights while listening to holiday music to get you in the spirit.
  6. Have family close by? Do a cookie exchange! Get several households to participate in exchanging cookies with one another and leave a box of them at their door. (Important note: Remember to always wash your hands when preparing foods and after coughing or sneezing. To read more of the CDC guidelines for preparing foods for others during COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website.)
  7. FaceTime/Zoom/Skype/Google Hangouts are all great ways to have a virtual gathering this year! If you are exchanging gifts with people, have them video call you so you can see them! You can plan activities, games, or even contests like “best decorations,” “best outfit,” “most delicious looking foods,” etc.
  8. Pick out a recipe you usually have at your holiday gathering and make it for those in your household. Or pick out a family recipe and make it on Zoom together with your family so you can all celebrate together and enjoy food that reminds you of being with them.
  9. Participate in an online event. Museums, zoos, symphonies, theatres, and more are all going virtual this year. If you usually visit the ballet, check online to see if there are any ballet performances or events happening virtually this year. Fun classes — like art or cooking courses — are also increasingly available online!
  10. Lean into the holidays this season, and embrace them as much as you can. Staying positive, being grateful, and enjoying where you are and what you have is so important after a year of unexpected challenges and uncertainty. Even if it’s just wearing silly holiday pajamas and watching your favorite seasonal movie while sipping hot chocolate — find some small way to treat yourself and celebrate all you do have in your life.

Looking for support this holiday season?