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6 Ways to Have a Happier and Less Stressed Holiday

Even in a typical year, the holiday season often brings stress along with its good cheer and sugar cookies. But, of course, 2021 is far from a typical year. These tips and resources can help you and your loved ones have a healthy, happy holiday. 

1. Choose safer ways to celebrate.
Holiday traditions are important, and after last year, many of us are looking forward to gathering in person with our loved ones. The best way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated or get a booster shot if you’re eligible. The CDC now recommends that all adults ages 18 and older get a booster shot. This can also help protect those not yet eligible for vaccination, such as children under five, as well as people who have a weakened immune system. It's also important to get a flu shot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends these guidelines for safer holidays celebrations:

  • Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth if you are in public indoor settings if you are not fully vaccinated. (Do not put a mask on children younger than 2 years old.)
  • Even those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission. You might also choose to wear a mask if a member of your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.
  • Outdoors is safer than indoors.
  • Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.
  • If you are sick or have symptoms, don’t host or attend a gathering.
  • Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have a close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • If you’re gathering with people from multiple households and potentially from different parts of the country, you could consider additional precautions (e.g., avoiding crowded indoor spaces before travel, taking a test) in advance of gathering.

Make it easier: You can find more information about safer holiday celebrations on the CDC website. If you are considering traveling for a holiday or event, visit the CDC’s Travel page to help you decide what is best for you and your family. The CDC still recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.

2. Make time for the holiday traditions you most enjoy—or create new ones.
Shopping, cooking, decorating, party planning—on top of your usual responsibilities—can keep you very busy. If you’re not enjoying those activities, try to cut back and create space for the activities you want to do, whether that’s watching your favorite holiday movies, having dinner with family, or walking around the neighborhood to see the light displays. This last year has underscored what we already knew—spending time with our loved ones brings meaning and joy to our lives. 

Make it easier: Take a few minutes for yourself with this box breathing exercise from our Resiliency video series.

3. Eat healthy, but let yourself indulge a little.
Eating healthy doesn’t mean denying yourself some of your holiday favorites. Just eat them in moderation. Take a small piece of cake or a few chips and really savor every bite. Research shows that the first few bites of a food taste the best, so a small treat may be the best way to go. Not skipping meals, using smaller plates, and avoiding high-calorie drinks are also good ways to eat healthier during the holidays.

Make it easier: Find healthy holiday recipes to share with the Rhode Ahead cookbook Lighten Up Your Holidays.

4. Schedule time for being active.
To make time for exercise, try adding it to your calendar or telling your family when you’re planning it. Doing something you like—whether going for a walk, taking a virtual fitness class, or practicing yoga—is good for your mood and your body. Make it family time to stay active together or alone time if you need a break.

Make it easier: Take virtual fitness classes live on the Your Blue Store Studio Facebook group page at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, or watch the videos whenever it is convenient. There are hundreds of videos available, so it’s like a free streaming service! We also offer free in-person classes for members at Your Blue Store locations (with masks and socially distanced). Sign up for a class.1

5. Give gifts focused on wellness (and save money doing it).
As we’re all trying to stay physically and mentally healthy, consider buying gifts that can help throughout the year. This might include fitness equipment, streaming fitness services, virtual classes, or meal services. You can also give out coupons for helping family and friends with shoveling, meal delivery, and other helpful tasks.

Make it easier: Blue365®3 offers members-only savings on health and fitness gear, streaming fitness services, meal plans, and much more—with brand names like Fitbit, Reebok, Jenny Craig, and Sunbasket. There’s no charge to register, and you can sign up for email alerts tailored to your preferences. Check out the savings at Blue365

6. Talk with a therapist from your couch (or anywhere else).  
The pandemic has taken a toll on nearly everyone, and a therapist can help with stress, anxiety, depression, substance use disorder, and other issues you may be experiencing. And you can get help however it works best for you—in person, through video chat, or by phone. 

Make it easier: You have coverage for clinically appropriate video and phone visits from in-network providers, including therapists. Ask your therapist if that is an option for any treatment that you need. If you need help finding a provider, you can call the BCBSRI Behavioral Health Line 24/7 at 1-800-274-2958. You can also schedule a video visit with a therapist or psychiatrist through BCBSRI Doctors Online* if that service is available with your plan. To find out more, visit or call 1-800-345-1419. Learn more about your mental health and substance use disorder benefits.  

Helpful resources

These resources can provide assistance if you or someone you know needs help. 

Rhode Island adults experiencing mental health and substance use crises can receive the appropriate services they need by calling (401) 414-LINK (5465). 

Kids’ Link RI
This 24/7 hotline for kids in emotional crisis—1-855-543-5465—is offered in collaboration with Gateway Healthcare, Lifespan, Hasbro Children's Hospital, and Bradley Hospital. 

United Way 211
You can call 211 for help 24/7 with housing, food, and so much more.

1Not all exercises are suitable for everyone and any exercise program could result in injury. Always consult with your physician before beginning an exercise program, especially if you have an existing health condition.

2©2000‐2021 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association ‐ All Rights Reserved. The Blue365 program is made available by BCBSRI in conjunction with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.

3Doctors Online is a telemedicine service provided by American Well®, an independent company that administers Doctors Online on behalf of BCBSRI.