This article originally appeared in Well+Good.
Perry Como first declared “there’s no place like home for the holidays” in 1959. Every year, the millions of people who travel to see their loved ones prove as much. This year, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has delivered a decidedly different message: For the health and safety of the nation, pleased don’t go home for the holidays. Yet for many folks, the full emotional weight of spending the holidays alone is heavy.
Clinical psychologist Aimee Daramus, PsyD, says that it’s not only valid but normal to feel upset if you’re spending the 2020 holidays all by yourself.
“Being alone for the holidays can feel like a rejection even when it isn’t the case. You can choose not to get together with family because of the pandemic, but still feel lonely if family is usually a part of your holiday,” says Dr. Daramus. Meanwhile, those who are not on good terms with their family may feel a lack of warmth and compassion that’s usually inextricable from the holiday—and that doesn’t feel great either. “Because of political and pandemic conflicts, some people are experiencing that for the first time this year, too,” adds Dr. Daramus.