By Alice Gainer

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The holiday season is associated with cheer and joy. But for many this year, there’s a lot of sadness.

So what can you do to lift your spirits or get through it, especially if you’ll be alone? CBS2’s Alice Gainer recently spoke to an expert and got advice.

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This holiday season is different this year for many New Yorkers.

“I’m actually usually at home in Alaska. This is my first year being away from my family,” Rafael Bitanga said.

“We celebrate Hanukkah with the family, so that changed this year because we had to light candles with the family with Zoom,” said Shelly Blank of the Upper West Side.

“We have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day rituals for the last 30 years or so, but we’re gonna Zoom,” added Hannah Wallace of Greenwich Village.


As you just read, many will be celebrating virtually. Experts say get creative and reconstruct your traditions to stay connected from afar.

“Do as much as you can to replicate what the typical is, so send along a schedule, a shared menu music play lists, tune into same TV channels, play virtual games,” Gracie Square Hospital psychologist Dr. Michael B. Klein said.

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Klein said to ease up on unhelpful thinking.

“That may be holding onto this idea that anything less than full-on festivities that we’re used to that that’s a complete failure. When we think that way we’re setting ourselves up sometimes to not enjoy our holiday and to have more loss,” Klein said.

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If you’ll be alone, schedule plans with yourself.

“Decorate your home. Get yourself something nice like a gift. Maybe grab a pint of your favorite holiday ice cream. Watch your favorite holiday movie,” Klein said.

Connect with others in a meaningful way by virtually volunteering.

“You can call older adults who are in isolation. You can give career advice to high school students, even narrating audio books to people with visual impairments,” Klein said.

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Alone or not, it’s easy to focus on what’s missing. Klein said to name three things you’re grateful for right now. It will help you find meaning and enjoyment this holiday season.

If you need help, Klein said to reach out to a professional. Also, if you just want to have a low-key holiday, that’s fine, too.

Another idea is to postpone holiday celebrations until spring when you can be outside with others.

CBS2’s Alice Gainer contributed to this report.

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