Recent holiday traveling accelerated the number of virus infections and deaths today. Hospitals have reached their ICU capacity and talks of rationing care are no longer an academic discussion. Collectively we failed the holiday test last month. Let’s plan better for the upcoming holidays.

Unmet Basic Needs

Let’s face it, life feels heavy right now. Think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs on human motivations. The base of the hierarchy is basic physiological and safety needs of food, warmth, water, rest, security, and safety. For many of us, these basic needs are not being met. Food banks, homeless shelters, and long-term care facilities all come to my mind as crisis centers at magnitudes never imagined.

Holidays Fill Our Psychological Needs

Abraham Maslow published “A Theory of Human Motivation” in the Psychological Review in 1943. Amazing how his work has stood the test of time, in fact, it seems the perfect framework for understanding why we are having such a struggling today. You see, the second topic of his hierarchy is the psychological needs for friendships, families, accomplishments, and belonging. Holidays strike at the heart of our psychological needs. How and with whom do we manifest our core values and traditions.

Reaching the Apex

The top of Maslow’s pyramid is the need for self-actualization. This is the pinnacle of self-expression and individuality. This holiday season is a real test of talents to celebrate together while staying apart. AARP published a survey of one thousand caregivers’ plans for the holidays. Seventy-seven percent of the respondents committed to modifying their holiday plans to meet the pandemic restrictions.

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Travel

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highly recommends restricting travel right now. Here are their recommendations if you must travel: Travel can increase your chance of spreading and getting the pandemic. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from the virus. You and your travel companions (including children) may feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can still spread the pandemic to family, friends, and the community after travel. If you have a known exposure to the virus you should delay travel, quarantine yourself from other people, get tested, and monitor your health. Check your state or local health department for information about local quarantine requirements. Don’t travel if you are sick or test positive for the virus. Don’t travel with someone who is sick.

Traditions

Stay in the flow. Your body and mind will thank you. Many faith services are now on television or on the internet. Participating in these traditions bring comfort and belonging. How about your favorite holiday movies?

Food & Drink

I am a huge fan of Christmas cookies (baking and eating). The smell of gingerbread, cinnamon, chocolate, and mint illicit the happiest times raising my boys. How about you? What food and drinks get you in the spirit?

Homemade Gifts

Now this is where Maslow’s highest human motivations can soar. Social distancing is eroding our connections on so many levels. What about showing your love with homemade gifts and cards? Low cost and creative expressions of love are perfect. Do as one of my favorite caregivers did for her father, she sent out a Facebook request for postcards to be delivered to her father’s nursing home room. He loves it! He looks at them over and over again.

Stay Connected

Maslow emphasizes our psychological needs for connection and validation. Missing holidays amplifies the sadness, anxiety, and anger in our current situation. Withdrawing is not the answer. In fact, volunteer organizations are placing calls to vulnerable people every day which underscores the importance of remaining connected.