Celebrating the holidays during COVID-19

By Dr. Bryan Alsip

Last year was hard for many of us, as the pandemic kept us physically distanced from our loved ones during the holiday season. But since the FDA has approved the COVID-19 vaccine, gathering with family and friends safely is possible this year.

CDC Recommendations for Winter 2021 Holidays

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine get it. Currently, vaccines are available for everyone aged 5 and older.

If you are fully vaccinated, you can safely gather indoors without masks with other fully vaccinated people. You are considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after you have completed a full vaccine series.

The CDC released these guidelines for safely celebrating the holidays this season:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Gathering outdoors is safer than gathering indoors if you aren’t sure about everyone’s vaccination status
  • If you are in a public, indoor space, wear a mask regardless of vaccination status
  • In general, you do not need to wear a mask outdoors
  • Do not host a gathering if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19
  • Children under 2 years should not wear a mask
  • You may want to take extra precautions (masking, distancing) if someone in your group has a weakened immune system, even if they are fully vaccinated

Staying safe and following the guidance of public health officials will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 through the winter.

Coping with Holiday Stress

There is no avoiding the fact that holidays cause many people stress. Consider ways to relieve stress while staying home such as mediation apps. These resources can assist in coping with stress related to the holidays:

Lower stress and anxiety levels, lessen fatigue and fight sadness during the holiday season with these tips:

  • Eat healthy foods and get enough sleep
  • Take care of your body and stay active
  • Practice mindfulness

“Listen to your family and your colleagues,” Dr. Bryan Alsip said. “Be mindful of yourself. Watch carefully for the onset of exhaustion, emotional swings or stress. Help support each other as we navigate this holiday season.”

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