HONOLULU (KHON2) — The pandemic is bringing a different kind of holiday celebration this year, as many are forced to cancel trips to visit family due to the rise of COVID-19 cases, but experts say there are ways to get through the uncertainty.

Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8

This year has not been the most cheerful for many. The Big Island Substance Abuse Council CEO Dr. Hannah Preston-Pita said the effects of COVID amplified people’s personal struggles.

“For a lot of us, we’re faced with many losses over the year, due to unemployment, financial challenges, and possibly losing a loved one,” Dr. Preston-Pita said. “It’s going to make it very tough this time of the year because we’re really hyper-focused on those types of things.” 

For those away from family, the holidays are usually a time when they plan to visit home but COVID poses a safety risk. Daniel Ramos was faced with the decision to travel home or stay in Honolulu. He said the rise of cases in his home state of Texas ultimately helped him decide.

Ramos said, “My grandma, she’s elderly and lives with my family and I just want to make sure that I’m protecting them.”

He said they are planning on meeting virtually instead. It will not be the usual Christmas morning breakfast with family but at least they can connect throughout the day.

Ramos said, “They want to do facetime and zooming in the morning when they open up gifts and they’ll be sending me all of my gifts and I can only open some at certain times.”

Dr. Preston-Pita said the holiday blues should not get in the way of healthy behaviors.

She said while alcohol consumption is on the rise as a coping mechanism, sadness or loneliness can be manifested in other ways.

Dr. Preston-Pita said, “It could be like, I’m eating more often than I should, or I’m not eating as often as I should, or I haven’t been able to sleep for hours on end.”

With Christmas just weeks away, it is not too early to have a self-care plan. Some recommendations include healthy eating, exercise and outdoor activities, the point is to remain busy.

“We all need a survival kit on the side, like if this happens, what am I going to do, predict it,” Dr. Preston-Pita said. “If I get sad during these times, what am I going to do to kind of change those things? Oh, I’m going to go ahead and connect with a friend.”

Latest Stories on KHON2