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  • Dr. Matt Zakreski

Christmas in the Time of COVID

**original post alert**


I often say that if therapy is anything, it is the process of learning to hold two (or more) different thoughts in your head at the same time.


This holding can be a monumentally difficult thing to do, because our brains work quickly to make evaluations (i.e., this thing is good/bad/scary) and our brains like to be right and will work hard to "stay" right. It is hard to train your brain to make space for both sides of an argument, especially when it is very emotional. Our brains will pull to only attend to one side, which limits our breadth of emotional and behavioral responses.


Why am I telling you this today? Because today is Christmas Eve in the time of Covid-19.


I love Christmas. I love my family's traditions and I love my partner's family's traditions. I love the gift giving and receiving. I love the stories, the carols, the food, and the stories. I love the feeling of being warm and cozy together with family to cap off a year.


This year, we made the difficult (and necessary) decision to stay home and away from our families to protect everyone from getting sick. I know that many of you made similar decisions. I know how incredibly hard this season feels as a result. How can you possibly sit with these feelings!?


That is where holding multiple thoughts at the same time comes in. Of course you feel upset and guilty and frustrated that you cannot be with your families and do your holiday. And of course you're scared of the global pandemic and want to keep your loved ones safe. Both feelings are perfectly valid and understandable.


And both thoughts are true at the same time.


You can be sad to miss holiday celebrations AND feel like you made the right decision to stay home.


Your families can be sad to be missing you at the holidays AND understand why you made your choices. You can wish that people made different choices AND love them and understand their reasons.


You can desperately wish that things were different (I do!!!) AND understand that the reality is really scary right now.


In any situation, we were faced with a series of impossible choices this year. Meeting those choices and the results that flowed from them is going to take incredible amounts of empathy, patience, and resilience. Whatever you chose and whatever your loved ones chose, I hope that you understand that there are no perfect choices this year. If you stop waiting or hoping for a perfect experience and make space for feeling both sad/upset/anxious AND safe/resolved/understanding, these difficult times will pass with less (though not zero) pain.


Hopefully at this time next year, things will be back to normal and we will all be together in the ways that we want to be. Until then, stay safe and take care of yourselves.


Things will get better. I cant wait to share those times with you.


Happy holidays!! #drmatt

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