For many people, the holidays can be challenging even in normal circumstances. Considering the current situation with COVID-19 and other ongoing issues, we find ourselves in uncharted territory this year. These circumstances are out of our control, but that does not make them easier to manage or relieve the anxiety we feel over what the holidays will look like this season.
In order to continue finding joy this year, it is important we shift our mindsets and find strategies to cope with the uncertainty of the season ahead. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind to help manage our expectations while enjoying the holidays in new ways:
Schedule time for yourself. If you still have vacation time, use it! Even if you are not traveling this year, it is important to step away from work and do things that you enjoy. This could include going for a hike, baking holiday cookies to leave on neighbors’ doorsteps, doing some online gift shopping or simply watching a movie on the couch in your pajamas! The key is to take time to decompress and reset, which is more important now than ever.
Start new traditions. It is disappointing to not be able to take part in many of the usual festive celebrations we are used to. But consider this an opportunity to create new memories and traditions. Try bundling up with hot chocolate for a drive or walk to see nearby holiday lights. Start a contactless food drive with your neighbors to collect canned goods and other items for those facing tough times. Record readings of favorite holiday stories for loved ones far away. Try a new recipe for a holiday meal. While we may not be able to travel or gather in person, there are still ways to connect and spread holiday cheer.
Set your own boundaries. It is important to stick to what you are comfortable with when it comes to celebrating the holidays this year. It may lead to some difficult conversations with friends or family members, but you need to prioritize your physical and mental health and well-being first. Do not travel out of guilt or worry about asking any guests to follow your guidelines. It can also be tempting to go all out when we do celebrate this year to make up for what is missing, but continue to take care of yourself and do what works for you. Do not feel pressured to find holiday perfection and stretch yourself and your budget to the limits in the process. Recognize that this year will be different, and it is okay.
Take care of yourself. In the midst of everything else going on, continue to prioritize yourself. Find time to exercise and stay active – this can be a brisk outdoor walk or a quiet yoga practice in your living room. Continue to eat what nourishes your body. Do not skimp on sleep. And if you are experiencing challenges, do not hesitate to reach out for help. Contact friends or family or reach out to resources like your Employee Assistance Program for support. This support system will help you navigate this unusual time.
This holiday season will be vastly different than most, making it more important than ever that we find ways to find ways to adapt, cope and manage expectations in the weeks and months ahead. While we may encounter unique challenges, it is also an opportunity to find new ways to celebrate the season and find joy and camaraderie in unexpected places.