Group having virtual call with loved one

How to Care for a Loved One From Afar This Holiday Season + Free Printables

The holiday season may look a little unconventional this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has put limitations on travel and gathering with loved ones. While the holidays can bring on stress, sadness, or anxiousness for some, coping with this “new normal” may make it even more difficult for you or your loved ones to be in good spirits. Showing support and caring for your loved ones is more important than ever this year to help ensure they stay both mentally and physically healthy.

Fortunately, with Everlywell there are still ways you can make it a happy and healthy holiday season because you can give and get care no matter where you are. Read on to discover the different ways that you can give the gift of health and peace of mind from a social distance this holiday season.

1. Take Advantage of Technology

take-advantage-of-tech With the accessibility of technology, we can check in with someone anytime, anywhere. Make sure you take advantage of this during the holiday season. Regular phone calls or video chats can be a great way to check in with loved ones and alleviate loneliness on both sides.

If you and your family are unable to gather for the holidays this year, you could even have a virtual celebration. Several platforms offer quick and easy access for video chatting where you can include all of your family or friends at once.

If you want to emulate a sense of normalcy this season, you may have to get creative. Exchanging gifts virtually or video calling while you decorate your home with your favorite festive decorations are great ways to keep your loved ones feeling close even if you’re apart.

2. Provide Emotional Support

care-for-loved-one-mock1 Despite the holidays being marketed as “the most wonderful time of the year," many people still experience heightened feelings of stress, sadness, and anxiousness during this time. According to a 2014 survey done by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64 percent of people with a diagnosed mental illness report that the holidays make their conditions worse. Holiday blues could be attributed to loneliness, career stress, the financial stress that comes with gift-giving, or unrealistic expectations—not to mention, the added layer of stress that has inherently come with the COVID-19 pandemic.

To show emotional support during the holidays, make sure you’re checking in on loved ones regularly. Making time to catch up or listen to their feelings can help you both feel more connected and supported during the holiday season.

Taking time to clear your mind, slow down, and temporarily remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of the holidays can be an effective way to manage stress and feelings of anxiousness. Print out the stress-relief coloring page below or gift it to a loved one this season. This is a great activity for a quick mental health break during the day if you feel stress coming on or to unwind in the evening.

If you or a loved one is having a mental health emergency, do not hesitate to reach out to a professional: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or Live Online Chat.


3. Check In On Their Sleeping Habits

care-for-loved-one-mock2 Feelings of stress can be heightened during the holiday season and can translate to poor sleep quality. Stress can keep you restless at night and inhibit your ability to properly unwind and drift into a good night’s sleep. One way to care for a loved one from a distance this holiday season is to check in on their sleeping habits to ensure they’re getting restorative sleep each night.

Not only can lack of sleep make it hard to function at your best during the day, but insufficient sleep can increase the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, depression, and stroke. It has also been linked to cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

Encouraging your loved ones to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night this holiday season can be beneficial for all aspects of their health. We’ve listed a sleep tracker that you can send to family and friends to help them track their sleep each night—this can help them track patterns and may identify if any changes need to be made to improve sleep quality.


4. Send Health-Focused Care Packages

Health maintenance has been a major priority throughout the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with quarantine and social distancing regulations, scheduling routine health appointments or your favorite wellness activities can be a challenge. So this holiday season, don’t just send a gift: send a care package that will benefit your loved ones.

Packages could vary from baskets filled with products to help loved ones get through flu season or at-home lab tests to safely monitor their health.



We’ve listed a few ideas below:

  • __COVID-19 Care Packag__e: hand sanitizer, face mask, cozy socks, candle, toilet paper, a stay-at-home game
  • For Aging Adults: personal care items/toiletries, puzzle, warm blanket, encouraging card or letter
  • Encouraging Self-Care: scented candle, spa/grooming products, eye mask, essential oils, herbal tea
  • Get Well Soon Care Package: tissues, DVD or book, soup, mug
  • At-Home Lab Tests: help identify food sensitivities, check on hormones that help determine overall health for men and for women, understand markers that can influence the risk for heart disease, and more.

5. Maintain Your Own Health

maintain-your-health Remember to take care of yourself this holiday season so it’s easier to care for your loved ones. Staying hydrated, making time for self-care, virtual workout classes, and getting enough sleep each night are all great ways to look after yourself during times of heightened stress and holiday chaos.

With shutdowns, it’s easy to let your health go to the backburner, but make sure you are still routinely checking in on your health. Consider safe ways to monitor your health from a social distance. Telehealth and at-home lab testing are great ways to safely have routine checkups during this time.

If you (or a loved one) is experiencing increased levels of stress or feelings of sadness or anxiousness, here are some activities that could help:

  • Improve your sleeping habits
  • Exercise for 30 minutes a day
  • Practice deep breathing
  • Take mental breaks throughout the day
  • Practice self-care
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Slow down with a craft, book, or puzzle
  • Make time for a hobby you enjoy
  • Consider joining an online support group

6. Plan a Safe Visit

plan-a-safe-visit If you’re considering visiting a loved one during the holidays, make sure you have no COVID-19 symptoms and have received a negative COVID-19 test result.

If you travel, make sure you are wearing a mask and remaining socially distant from others. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

If you’re hosting or attending a small holiday gathering during COVID-19, consider the following safety tips:

  • Limit exposure during travel by avoiding public ways of transportation if possible
  • Gather outdoors or indoors with good ventilation
  • Keep the number of people from different households at your gathering small
  • Have attendees socially distance and wear a mask
  • Ask attendees to take a COVID-19 test prior to their visit (such as a rapid home COVID-19 test)
  • Create single-serving meals instead of buffet tables

Even though this is the year of distance, it’s more important than ever to feel close and connected to our loved ones. Make plans to care for your loved ones from afar this season. Furthermore, instead of giving traditional gifts this year, consider giving the gift of care with at-home lab tests.


Sources: CDC | National Alliance on Mental Illness| Sleep Resource Society | American Psychology Association | Mayo Clinic

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