Coping With the Holidays During the Year of COVID

Interview with Dr. Colleen Cira:

Dr. Colleen Cira is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who specializes in Women and Trauma, and has worked with hundreds of people struggling with mental health issues.

There is a lot going on in terms of Psychophysiology when trauma is being felt—or in other words, our brains affect our body and visa versa. This information is imperative when it comes to learning how to calm our bodies and re-regulate our nervous system.

Talking Points from Dr. Cira
On Political Anxiety:

Holiday stress is common this time of year, but this year’s pandemic have made the holidays particularly challenging to our mental health—concerns for our health and the health of those we love, feelings of loneliness with less social interactions, not being to enjoy in-person shopping as much by avoiding large crowds, little to none of the holiday parties with our family or colleagues that we typically enjoy this special time of year, etc. Here a few tips for better managing your emotional health, always, and especially during the Holidays.

1) Feel it! The first absolute must do when it comes to working through feelings is to feel them. Get to know them. Identify what the feeling is. Sit with the feeling. Write about the feeling. Cry or yell about the feeling. Talk to a trust friend about the feeling.  Just accept it for what it is and be with it before you do anything else. If you fight the feelings, everything becomes like quicksand: the harder you fight, the deeper you sink.

2) Get curious about your feelings. Once you’ve really felt it, get curious about it. What am I feeling so strongly about? Do I miss my family? Am I lonely in general? Is it less about me and more about them where I’m worried about disappointing them or making them angry? If so, is that something I often experience with them? With everyone? Get curious about your experience and figure out what’s going on there.

3) Act on your knowledge. Once you have really felt your feelings and better understand why you feel the way you do, now you can do something about it! 

      • If you’re not going to see your family this year and you’re really going to miss them, set up a video conferencing meeting on the Holiday so that you can have the experience of being “with” them. 
      • If it’s less about them and more that you’re just lonely, figure out how to spend the Holidays in a safe way with people you love and trust (outdoors, Zoom, etc). 
      • Perhaps you don’t even enjoy your family that much you’re simply worried about disappointing them by not seeing them. In that case, give yourself a pat on the pack for prioritizing YOUR needs instead of theirs. Feel the fear of doing that and keep setting boundaries anyway. And perhaps start to read about unhealthy/toxic relationship dynamics because being in a healthy relationship means that people SUPPORT your choices, NOT guilt you over them.

4) Be extra mindful of taking good care of yourself. The basics may feel basic, but are essential for good mental health: get enough sleep, drink a lot of water, be mindful of what you’re putting in your mouth and whether it’s serving you (food, alcohol, other substances, etc.), carve out time to do things that you enjoy, move your body, get outside and connect with the people you love. Self-care is essential year round—but especially during times of stress.

These are just a few thoughts Dr. Cira has on creating a foundation for good mental health during the Holidays, but can elaborate and offer more practical suggestions.


Available for Interviews: Dr. Colleen Cira

Dr. Colleen D. Cira, Psy.D. received both her Masters and Doctorate from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology and has been practicing in the field since 2001. Dr. Cira is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and the Founder and Executive Director of Cira Center for Behavioral Health, PC a boutique group practice with locations in Chicago and Oak Park that specializes in Women’s Issues/Health and Trauma. Dr. Cira is a trauma and anxiety expert, clinical supervisor, writer, speaker, consultant, activist, wife, and Mommy to two little ones.

Jo Allison
PR Managing Editor
Success In Media, Inc.

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