If you catch yourself at any point spiraling into bleak fantasies — this isolation will last forever, you’ll never touch or hug anyone again — bring your attention back to the here and now. See what you can do today to give yourself a sense of control instead of obsessing about a future scenario that may never happen.
Ms. Kwong recommends asking yourself what you need in the moment. If you’re craving connection, reach out to a loved one. Text a friend or family member and let them know that you’re thinking about them. Check in on other people in your orbit.
Identify what’s most important to you. Focus on achieving it.
Ms. Kwong suggests picking out one element of the holiday that’s sacred to you. For Thanksgiving, perhaps it’s eating pumpkin pie. In December, it could be lighting candles, singing songs, decorating a tree, eating latkes and applesauce. Focus on that element and give it time, attention and care.
You can also create brand-new rituals. Perhaps you take this opportunity to create a new Friendsgiving tradition or you incorporate a new recipe into your holiday meal. Do what feels right to you. “There’s no guilting, shaming or doing it right,” Ms. Kwong said, “because there’s no one right way to do this.”
Take a social media break if you need it.
If social media posts leave you feeling warm, fuzzy and more connected, scroll away. However, if you’re feeling vulnerable, comparing your own situation against someone else’s edited version of their life could stir up negative emotions. Remember that images and videos may not tell the whole story of another person’s circumstances. Give yourself permission to pull away from those platforms or at least curate your feed to minimize those kinds of posts if you find them overwhelming.
Be gracious. Live in the moment.
As you catch up with relatives and loved ones during the holidays, Dr. Shumway encourages minimizing any distractions so you can fully be present. Stash away your phone, turn off the television, silence notifications — give your full attention to the people you’re speaking with. “The goal here is to build those memories, to have an experience of being fully plugged into a relational moment,” he said.
Offer yourself opportunities to create new memories that will make you feel included and connected with the people in your life, Dr. Abrams said.