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Here’s how to cope when your usual traditions get uprooted
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Here’s how to cope when your usual traditions get uprooted

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The holiday season, like just about everything else this year, probably won’t look the same as usual. Whether that means going to smaller gatherings without the usual relatives, quarantining when traveling or staying home entirely, chances are something will be different this year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. For many who look forward to a full table at Christmas or a big party on New Year’s Eve, these changes are unwelcome and frankly a little depressing. In response, people may experience emotions ranging from guilt to loneliness to a feeling of disconnected sadness, says Dr. Hilary Connery, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

“People are hardwired to be social animals,” says Connery. Traditions around holidays, birthdays and other special events, such as weddings or baby showers, help to preserve those connections in a predictable manner. So, their absence or change leaves some people feeling adrift.

“Grief and loss are challenging on any day, and the holidays only highlight and amplify that feeling of missing out on what was supposed to be your time to get your share of ordinary happiness,” says Connery.

But there are things you can do to make this unusual time easier. Below are some strategies for making the most of a less-than-ideal situation:

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