Against the backdrop of a spike in COVID-19 cases, many Canadians are spending the holidays alone to protect their families and communities. Maclean’s asked five of them how they plan to keep their spirits up.
Photographs by Lucy Lu
Juanita Kwarting, 37 Toronto
Usually, my holiday plans are in two scenarios. If I'm here, I'm usually at a friend's house, and we're having a fairly large gathering. Or I'm with my family. Usually we're meeting up somewhere in the world, in the U.S. or Ghana, as a family. This year, I am choosing to spend Christmas alone.
I started this whole process of choosing to be alone in mid-November. I live with depression, and two years ago, I had a really bad episode of my depression. So the idea of being alone really triggered the situation and brought back all of those dark thoughts. I was talking to my therapist, and I just got the idea of what if I just decided to choose this? Thinking of it from a choice perspective allows me to find peace in the situation because I don't feel like I'm a victim of the situation.
So what I’m doing this year is focusing on creating a mental health plan. But it basically is in five steps. The first step is to identify your concern. The second one is to be kind to yourself. The third one is identifying skills that can help you reduce the intensity [of your emotions]. And then the fourth one is to have fun things to do! The fifth thing is to write it all down, or share it with somebody.