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  • Grace E. Hazeltine, Ph.D.

'Tis the Season

Avoid internalizing distress about winter, COVID, California's stay-at-home orders, and the unprecedented holiday season.

This article focuses on the experiences of adults rather than teens.


For most of us, the holiday season is a time focused on connection with loved ones and family, for better or worse. But the joys and stresses of the holiday season are finding new challenges this year as we all are forced to adjust to the coronavirus. For those of us who tend to feel isolated during the holiday season, this year asks us to cope with a fuel tank already running on reserve. For those of us used to spending quality (or “quality”) time with our family, the conditions burden us with new limitations—negotiating travel restrictions, groups of people with varying levels of conscientiousness about the virus, or even the illness of a loved one.


The difficulties are new, significant, and unavoidable (and we have to deal with them with nearly 10 months of navigating this uncertain reality of ours under our belts). There is a temptation to find fault in ourselves or each other for the frustration and sadness—“I’m disappointing mom by not flying home” or “I just wish they took it more seriously so I don’t have to feel like the bad guy!” It’s easy to lose sight of our common enemy.


However, even with appropriate attribution to the new danger in our environment, there is something to be gained from the specific complaints we have. That’s one way I have found that psychotherapy can be helpful during this time; not only can therapists help us bear the difficulties that arise for us, but they can help us gain insight into why these difficulties and not those difficulties are so afflicting.


If you are reading this, I hope that you are navigating whatever circumstances you face with as much resilience as possible. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of service.