Mon | Dec 5, 2022

Managing fear and COVID-19 during Christmas festivities

Published:Sunday | December 19, 2021 | 12:05 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston - Sunday Gleaner Writer

In a few days, it will be Christmas, and the usual fanfare has begun. However, for many, it will not be business as usual as the spontaneity of hugging, enthusiastically greeting and just mingling with each other will be tempered. Some persons, no doubt, will also be dealing with the element of fear of contracting the virus that has been creating havoc by killing millions around the world in two years.

Still it is, after all, the season to be jolly, and no one wants a damper to be placed on a time when there should be laughter and fun.

It is for this reason that Family and Religion reached out to clinical psychologist and gospel artiste, Doctor Kevin Waite, for advice on how to safely navigate the holiday in this uncertain season.

He shared that, although data and information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have indicated that there has been a significant drop in the spread of COVID-19 in some parts of the world, there is still a great level of fear and pessimism among people who dread the thought that they or members of their family could contract the potentially life-threatening virus during the season of festivities.

Waite noted that a study by Mertens (2020) identified some of the immediate socio-economic effects of COVID that have widened the tension and anxieties regarding the pandemic.

“For instance, the high-spread pandemic has critically destabilised the local and global economic environment. Consequently, many parents feel unobligated to incur additional expenses by taking their children and family to festivities. At the same time, the occurrence of the coronavirus has resulted in a significant cessation in movement and limited social interaction in schools and other learning environments,” he shared.

Waite noted that, although some of the strict prevention measures have been lifted following a decline in coronavirus cases, many parents will still have their children spend the Christmas indoors.

“Ending fear and understanding the measures of controlling the coronavirus are the most effective strategies that parents can use to protect and limit their children’s behaviours during the festive season,” he shared.

Waite, cognisant of the fear element, is urging parents and other family members to control their fears, apply safety measures and enjoy themselves. The worst thing they can do in the festive season is allow fear to rob them of valuable time that could be spent with their loved ones.

He advised that parents whose children are going out to spend time with other relatives should ensure the happiness of their children and healthcare safety by educating them about risky behaviours. For instance, he said that parents should warn their children that, although they are with relatives, which might also include those visiting from abroad, they should wear their masks and ensure there is a balance between fun and safety during the Christmas festivities.

“Parents must also have faith and understand the danger of locking up their children and shielding them from interacting with fun activities and friends during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he cautioned as he said children need to socialise and lack of that can lead to depression.

Waite also shared that, putting fear aside, parents must allow their children to enjoy the fun associated with Christmas by taking their children to different fun places. However, parents must prioritise observing all the necessary economic and medical precautions to ensure the survival of their families and children.