We are craving some holiday joy after many months of navigating the upside-down world that COVID-19 has created. We all know that the holidays are for spending them with those closest to you and experiencing many positive emotions. This year, we have to re-envision what our holidays are going to look like… Here are some healthy perspectives (a few are adapted from Binghamton University Health and Wellness Studies Lecturer Jennifer Wegmann.)
1) Start fresh
Take this time to create new traditions and make it however you want it to look like. Maybe you’re having sushi on Christmas eve and watching different Holiday (or non-holiday) movies… Just remember that this is new, so it’s not going to feel like it did in the past and that’s ok.
2) Create new rules and new standards
If putting your tree or lights up earlier than you used to and it brings you joy, then by all means go for it! Find what makes you feel joy and allow yourself to experience it however that may look.
3) Give back
Sometimes the best way to get out of a funk is to help someone who may be in need. To give back and connect in some way with your community fosters connection and also gives you a sense of purpose and meaning. Not to mention there are a lot of people who are living alone and possibly working from home isolated. A card in the mail or a goodie basket can go a long way to making someone feel remembered and cared for.
4) Embrace the quiet time
Bring out your inner introvert. While the holidays are known for a time to travel, visit, and present buying, this can also be a stressful time. Try to reframe this usual time by replacing it with quiet moments and time spent with those closest to you. By focusing on what you appreciate in the moments, and on what you have vs what has been lost is a huge mood booster for you and everyone around you.
5) Discover what you are grateful for
December is always a great time for reflecting on what we are truly grateful for. Studies show that gratitude is such an amazing stress reliever. Practice by asking yourself what truly is important to you. Who in your life has made an impact this past year? Let them know how much they mean to you.
6) Planning outdoor excursions
Another great way to connect with those in your pod is to try taking up a new hobby. Whether it’s sledding, snow-shoeing, skiing or spending time at local parks, you open yourself up to new experiences and memories.
7) Play games digitally
While there is nothing that can replace face-to-face connection with those you love and want to spend the holidays with, there are ways to make the most of the physical distancing guidelines by spending time digitally. Whether it’s cooking or sharing a meal online together, or check out some of these fun and quirky game ideas.
8) Taking a deep breath
This year has taught me there is nowhere to go and I don’t need to have all the answers. “One day at a time” is my motto these days. After completing my meditation teacher training earlier this year, a new habit I’ve adopted is taking 1 to 2 minutes in my day for a few deep conscious breaths. By bringing your attention to the present moment, you immediately reduce your stress level. Your muscles relax, the tension in your neck drops and you feel a little lighter. Next time you sense you’re feeling tense, I would like to invite you to try taking a few deep breaths, and just see how your body starts to let things go. You will be surprised at the shift and how it can instantly change your mood.
Like everything else in 2020, the holidays will simply be different. Shifting some expectations and preparing for those changes, however, could mean that different doesn’t have to be synonymous with bad.