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Planning Your Pandemic Holiday: How to Have Conversations and Set Expectations

While the holiday season is a joyous time for many, it can also be downright stressful due to Pandemic Holidays.

From gathering with family and friends and missing those who aren’t with us to trying to buy the perfect gifts and traveling, the number of anxiety-producing moments can skyrocket. This can especially be the case when upcoming gatherings include people who have a wide range of differing opinions than you on various topics. The friction can begin well before anyone arrives.

The holiday season is supposed to be a relaxing time meant for spending time with friends and family as a way to reflect back on the year. While a Pandemic Holiday of 2020 pose a vastly different reality, the typical stress and anxiety of holidays, especially during the months of November and December, can still feel more like a burden than a chance to recuperate and enjoy.

Here, we discuss how to set expectations for gatherings during the holidays and also have conversations with people who disagree with you. Be sure to also read up on our guide to Reducing Stress and Anxiety During The Holidays.

As we prepare for the holidays, what do we need to keep in mind about getting together and staying safe?

First, it is important to keep in mind that we are all experiencing the same type of distress. We just may express it in different ways. So, it’s normal to feel a bit more tension and intense emotions. However, times of distress are also when families have the opportunity to grow into a stronger team. So, the attitude we take can make all the difference in how our holidays turn out.

Since this holiday will be different because of the pandemic, how do we talk with our family about our expectations when our own family members may disagree too strongly?

It is so regretful that families are having a “whose side are you on?” argument or a “don’t’ ask, don’t tell” rule. It is valuable to engage in proactive conversations about our differences openly and calmly. This teaches children equality and acceptance, as well as how to talk about differences with healthy language and attitude.

How do we tell people what we need that is unique to the pandemic, like wearing masks or physical distancing?

We are all really nervous around the concept of offending people who think differently than ourselves and the pandemic has really made this a daily topic. Respect is key to stating a need in a tense situation. A small creative idea like an invitation with this type of request could help eliminate an argument.

How do we know if we have the necessary coping skills and resources to manage to talk about our expectations, especially when we believe they might result in a conflict with a family member?

In order to have conversations in situations where we assume conflict will happen, we need to be able to do a few actions:

  1. Check out our own emotional state. The intent is to walk in level-headed. When we are walking into a challenge with our emotions driving our actions our body language and tone, then we will be reactive to the other person’s reactions.
  2. Acknowledge each other’s differences of opinion. This will assist them in knowing I hear you and want to take your opinion and needs into consideration as well as my own. It will also assist in everyone having a more compromising attitude.
  3. Openly engage in a respectful conversation about what is the intent of your holiday tradition, then brainstorming a new creative tradition together will provide the opportunity for a joined solution, like sending videos of your favorite funny holiday story or a family video gathering in which everyone competes to describe the scent of their favorite holiday dish.

Is there anything special offer that Maison Vie is offering right now?

Yes. We are currently offering a FREE 90-minute session until the end of this year for families of our first responders, healthcare workers, and essential workers. We hope to assist family members by providing structured support so that they can openly address their unique difficulties associated with adjusting to our community’s recovery during the pandemic and each pandemic holiday. The therapist will guide the family from establishing their unique family goal to action steps that the family can start immediately. All families are asked to do is call us and schedule that free appointment. Click here to read more.