“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” As Andy Williams would say. As the lockdowns are lifted, travel and big gatherings are once again allowed. More reason to celebrate the holidays this year with family and friends. That is after three long years – which is quite a long time. Are you feeling the holiday stress this year? We’ll talk about mindfully handling that anxiety.
Why The Anxiety
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant negative impact on people’s mental health all across the world, including depression and isolation while in quarantine, fear about getting sick, and mourning over the loss of loved ones. Although many regions of the world are relaxing regulations and becoming more accessible to tourists, many individuals understandably feel nervous about traveling once more.
While many are thrilled to pack their bags to get on that plane for long-awaited reunions, some are also feeling a bit agitated about all the COVID-19 travel restrictions and requirements still in place.
Also after the three-long years, many of us have probably gotten used to seclusion or keeping to ourselves, and may not be as excited to mingle with others, most especially when the Covid-19 virus is not yet truly gone.
More than the travel aspect, we may also find ourselves adjusting to family or friends we only just started seeing again after years. We may find ourselves getting to know each other again. We may need to start learning how to enjoy the company of each other again.
Mindful Approach to Holidays Post-Pandemic
Post-pandemic Travel Anxieties
There’s little excuse for you now to delay that trip back home to meet your family as travel restrictions are lifted. As anxious as you may be you will have to start getting back to the normal routine again. Feeling overwhelmed? You are not alone. And here are some things you can do:
- Give Yourself Some Extra Time.
Give yourself some extra time to get adjusted to traveling again. You might not have traveled in a while, so give yourself plenty of time to prepare for any unforeseen circumstances. Start by traveling shorter distances before committing to longer travels.
- Manage Your Expectations.
It is when you manage your expectations that you can better prepare yourself and not get unpleasantly surprised by unfavorable conditions.
So travel without expecting that it will be as swift and easy just like before the pandemic. Expect instead that it can get overwhelming as airports could get busy again, especially during the holidays. There can be possible delays and unfavorable weather conditions such as the rare and sudden snowfall in London that got flights canceled recently.
- Gather All The Information You Need and Prepare.
Uncertainty and unfamiliarity are two of the main causes of anxiety so quell that by getting all the information you need. With that, you can come prepared with all your requirements, and by anticipating all the restrictions you can best decide if it’s still worth traveling.
- Take Advantage of Long Flights And Any Flight Delays By Meditating.
A simple breathing technique can calm your body’s natural response to stress and free you of negative thoughts and you can do it even on a plane or a busy airport. Start by inhaling for four counts (with your stomach expanding) and then exhaling for eight counts (with your stomach contracting). Repeat for three minutes as often whenever you begin to feel anxious. There are so many breathing techniques but I like to keep it simple with this one.
Long flights and long waits at the airport also give you time to be alone with your thoughts. Do an emotional check-in with yourself or self-awareness practice. Try asking yourself:
“How am I feeling right now?”
“Why am I feeling this way?”
“What can I do right now that could make me feel better even if I’m waiting for the situation to be resolved?
Family Reunion or Holiday Gathering Anxieties
The hustle and bustle of the normal holidays can be overwhelming enough. Moreso, if you are going to reunions after three-long years of seclusion. It’s best not just to prepare for the food you will be serving or the gifts you will be giving but also to prepare mentally.
The Changes In Each and Every Person Post-Pandemic Are Real.
You may have family or friends you haven’t seen for a while. You cannot expect everyone to remain the same as when you last saw them. During the lockdown, everyone had to learn how to cope and survive in various ways. Especially those who have suffered the debilitating Covid-19 virus and worst, those who lost a loved one.
If you find a family member or a friend wanting to spend more time alone, remember that it’s not about you. It’s what they may have gotten used to over the last few years. They will appreciate you giving them space. Maybe then you will discover just how someone you love may have evolved because of the pandemic. Keep an open mind that there may have been a lot of self-growth in between all this time.
Allow for loved ones to have breaks between the evenings, spend time alone for quiet meditation, and do exercise in the morning. They may even want to sleep earlier or enjoy a cup of tea solo. None of those things are reasons to get offended. The worldwide health scare and lockdowns have in one way or another changed each and every one of us with regard to coping and self-care. More often we may have learned to appreciate and cherish solitude.
Anticipate Communication Breakdown Starting December 29th, and For Things To Run Less Smoothly.
In addition, Mercury in Retrograde is coming early for once and it will start on December 29th this year and run until January 17th. With the messenger planet traveling backward you can expect some communication breakdown and things not going according to plan in that duration.
While that can be frustrating, remember that it’s not the end of the world. Mercury, which moves quickly, retrogrades three or four times a year, so you have already experienced it several times and will this year as well.
Mindful Tips When You Are Overwhelmed
This holiday season when we are all trying our best to get back to the way things were, remember to give yourself the breather that you need.
Whenever or wherever even in a busy airport or boring long-haul plane ride you can always take time for meditation. Do breathwork or write your thoughts out in your journal.
Take a walk alone but make sure it would be in a safe place. That walk will be good for both your mind and body and will give you the opportunity to be in the moment, invigorate your senses with some fresh air, give you the exercise you need, help you relax and clear your head.
Or apply Reiki on yourself if you have completed a Reiki 1 training for self-healing for a quick energy boost at home, at your hotel, while traveling on the plane, train, car, or wherever you may be.
At the end of the day remember that even though you cannot wait forever to go back to your pre-pandemic activities, you are allowed to take things slow. You are not alone in your worries. If the pandemic has taken a toll on you, you can focus on the lessons learned. Moving forward may not be easy but it has to be done at some point and keep in mind we’re all moving into a new normal, together. We’ve all been through a lot during the last three years, give yourself permission to enjoy this holiday season. We’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to again. The details that can create a spiral of stress matter less in the grand scheme of things.
Enjoy your holidays ahead!