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How to Survive the Holiday Season Alone

     2020 has been unexpected. People now have to think about the risks of human interaction, even with the people closest to them like parents and grandparents. My friend spent two weeks before Thanksgiving in quarantine so she could go home and visit her mom. I am planning on taking a test before I fly home in hopes to keep my family safe and I will not be seeing my grandma right away like I normally do.

     None of this is ideal or what I expected back when the pandemic hit. I did not think I would be spending Thanksgiving alone in my apartment, nor did I think my family would be staying in our respective homes for the holidays. It is disappointing.

     If you're spending the holiday season alone, challenge yourself to change your mindset. Christmas is just another day on the calendar when it comes down to it. Know that you will have time to gather with your family in person and share in the memories in the future when it is safe to do so.

     Here are some tips for spending the holidays alone or without your annual gathering. 


Do Something Nice for Yourself

     The holiday season has always been about treating yourself for me. I will splurge on that one piece of jewelry I've been eyeing for a while and I will eat that extra cookie. You spend the whole year working hard and the holidays are a time to reward yourself. This year, take that extra time to focus on self-love and self-care. This could be splurging on a bottle of wine, watching your favorite cheesy romantic comedy, smoking a joint, curling up with a new book, soaking in the bathtub, or anything else that gives you rest and relaxation.


Have a Virtual Holiday

     For Thanksgiving this year, Zoom gave unlimited minutes to all users in an attempt to let people connect with family and friends for longer than 40 minutes. My family is all over the US -- New Jersey, South Carolina, Oklahoma, so it has always been hard to get everyone together. This year, I am grateful that we have biweekly Zoom meetings to catch up, something we would not have done if it weren't for the pandemic. So, schedule a virtual holiday with family, friends, roommates, whoever. Make it fun with Powerpoint presentations, JackBox Games, or Netflix Party. Do not fully isolate yourself and take the time to virtually connect with the people closest to you. 


Stay Off Social Media

     This is definitely a challenge for a lot of people, regardless of the time of year. Looking at stories and posts of people hanging out with their loved ones can be triggering when you are alone, so do not go on social media. Your love will be made clear by your choice to keep your family and friends healthy this holiday season. Instead of going on social media, download a game on your phone from a few years ago, binge watch your favorite tv show, or if you really feel the need, turn your phone off. 


Validate Your Feelings

     Accept that it is okay to feel down and sad. 2020 has been a rollercoaster of emotions, from thinking the lockdown will only be a few weeks to the second wave of cases we are currently experiencing. You can be mad and frustrated at coronavirus for ruining your holiday traditions and making this year like a decade. It is okay to go through this emotional rona-coaster and feeling this way is part of being human. 


Help Others

     There are a ton of ways to help others during the holiday season. You could bake cookies for your neighbors, volunteer at a local shelter, donate your old clothes, participate in a holiday food drive, or help the essential workers with grocery shopping. This season, more than ever, people need help and there are ways to give your time or money to assist people in need in a safe way. Doing something good for someone else can help you not feel as lonely during the holiday season and be a great way to give back to your community.


     This holiday season will certainly be different from previous years, but there are reasons to celebrate and be grateful. Focus on self-care and your emotions. Find ways to safely connect with loved ones and know that you are not alone in this season. 

Cassie Nataro is a junior statistics major at Baylor University. She is from Easton, Pennsylvania, just a little north of Philadelphia. When she is not listening to a podcast, she can be found working at a local restaurant, studying around Waco, closing her watch rings or hanging out with her friends. Some of her favorite things include breakfast foods, swimming, cult documentaries, witty banter, cross stitching and vegan baked goods.
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