‘Holiday Blues’ amplified by pandemic

Ways to Manage and Cope
Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 11:54 AM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The phrase “holiday blues” often refers to the feelings of sadness, depression, or isolation that some people feel during the holiday season and this year’s pandemic doesn’t help.

“Often there are some social isolation factors, that’s only going to be amplified this year,” Dr. Benjamin McManus, an assistant director at the UAB TRIP Lab, said. “There are some ways we can get around that, but usually with social isolation what you’re going to see are symptoms or behaviors that most mimic lots of anxiety and depressive symptoms.”

As many people weigh the risks of whether or not to travel for the holidays because of COVID-19, it’s possible more people will have those feelings of isolation at home this year. McManus says there are ways to cope, starting with a change in perspective.

“The term that’s on everybody’s mind is social distancing, but when it comes to this holiday that’s what we’re missing out on is the ability to be with our friends and family like we normally would be,” McManus said. “So instead of looking at it like social distancing, if we turned it around and say distant socialization, we might have a more positive outlook on it.”

He encourages focusing on the ways we can socially engage with others, like family and friends, while being physically distant. Instead of going out as a whole family for Black Friday shopping, people could virtually shop together using Zoom.

Dr. MacManus also says despite it being tempting to just scroll on your phone or watch tv, those can contribute to feelings of isolation. Instead, he recommends doing more active things, reading, getting involved with a hobby, or volunteering if it’s safe.

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