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Sharp Health News

Making the most of holidays during quarantine

April 8, 2020

Making the most of holidays during quarantine
For many of us, holidays are a time to enjoy traditions, host large gatherings, and travel to see family and friends. This year, however, is very different. During a pandemic that is forcing us to stay inside, stop traveling and avoid contact with others, we must celebrate holidays in a manner that we have never experienced in our lifetimes.

While it is natural to feel disappointed and upset, these circumstances provide an opportunity to explore different ways of celebrating and connecting with your loved ones. Lori Alford, a therapist affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital, offers ideas on how to make the most of holiday celebrations during quarantine:

  1. Get creative. Create representations of the holiday’s meaning with decorating and arts and crafts. Encourage children to draw and write about these special occasions. Writing letters to our future selves is a unique way to capture the memories of this year’s celebration so that you may reflect on them later in life. You might also like to share reflections and art on social media so that loved ones can enjoy.

  2. Tune in to virtual ceremonies. If you are used to public ceremonies, search for your community’s video links, articles or podcasts to help you connect to the traditions you normally observe.

  3. Take advantage of technology. Make a plan with extended family members and friends to connect at a certain time through your favorite social media or video conferencing software. Share your reflections about the holiday’s meaning and your special and creative ways of celebrating. Ask others, particularly elders, to share family stories that the children may never have heard.

  4. Share the traditions. The extra time that many of us have due to the quarantine allows us to spend more time preparing special dishes associated with the holiday. Traditional family recipes can be shared with younger generations and they can learn not only how to make them, but also why these dishes are significant. Listening to or playing music associated with the holiday can make things feel even more festive.

  5. Practice gratitude. Even in the context of losing our holiday routine, we can reflect on gratitude and acceptance. Consider thinking about what you do have and are thankful for rather than focusing on what you don't have. Focusing on what you don't have may keep you stuck in a negative emotional state. While we must give up our normal routine, we still have the ability to celebrate and connect.
“It is important to be psychologically flexible and not view these changes of how we celebrate holidays in black and white terms,” says Lori. “For example, just because we can't do what we used to do at this time of year, doesn't mean we can't do anything at all and that it's a complete loss. It's more helpful to think about how to adjust your sails to the current conditions. Within the current conditions we all face, we can focus on how to meaningfully connect with others and find new ways to observe the holidays.”

For the news media: To talk with Lori Alford about celebrating holidays during quarantine for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at

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