Giving thanks making merry during COVID-19 image

For the first time in more than a century, Nebraskans will grapple with celebrating Thanksgiving and December holidays (including Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa) during a global pandemic. It’s natural to want to gather in-person for the holidays – and realizing that might not be possible can be emotionally tough for adults and kids alike.

“This year’s celebrations will certainly look different than those in years past, but with a little creativity, holiday celebrations can still be meaningful this year,” Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), said. “Consider using a video conference service such as Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime to carry out your traditions, like singing holiday songs, wrapping presents, baking cookies, or having a special dinner together virtually. And remember that this time won’t last forever. Stay in the moment, but by supporting each other in new ways.”

Steps to Help Provide Stability and Support to Children During the Holidays

  • Reach out to friends and family via phone or video chats. Help children to write cards or letters to family members they may not be able to visit.
  • Talk, listen, and encourage expression.
  • Give honest and accurate information.
  • Teach simple steps to stay healthy.
  • Be alert for any change in behavior.
  • Reassure children about their safety and well-being.

Tips to Help Adults Deal With Emotions During the Holidays

  • Allow people to feel their feelings, rather than urging them to be in a celebratory mood. Don’t inadvertently fault them for how they feel.
  • Consider a virtual celebration via Skype or Zoom.
  • Be realistic. This year’s holidays will be different; avoid judgment or unrealistic expectations.
  • Set time aside for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do.
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol, drugs and overeating.

Other strategies for staying safe over the holidays:

  • Celebrate with people in your household.
  • Wear a mask with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19. Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin and make sure the mask fits snugly against the sides of your face.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread COVID-19 or flu. Keeping 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Keep hand sanitizer with you and use it when you are unable to wash your hands.  Use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

Need to talk or get immediate help in a crisis?

  • Nebraska Family Helpline, (888) 866-8660
  • Rural Response Hotline, (800) 464-0258
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish), or text TalkWithUs for English or o envíenos un mensaje de texto con “Hablanos” para español al 66746
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
  • The Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116  
  • Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

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