Health Advocate Blog

Spend time with others—it’s good for you!

What a year we’ve had! 2021 allowed us the opportunity to reconnect with others. As we continue to forge ahead toward a more connected future, we encourage you to make the most of the rest of 2021 as you plan to spend time with others around the holidays. While most holiday celebrations center on meals, the true meaning and intention behind them is togetherness. This holiday season, indulge in conversation and spend quality time with your friends and family. Try these tips:

First and foremost, follow guidelines for social gatherings. If you’re in an area of high transmission, the CDC recommends wearing a mask in public settings, even if you are fully vaccinated. If you’re fully vaccinated and planning to celebrate with friends/family that are fully vaccinated at someone’s home, masks are only suggested for those who are at high-risk such as immunocompromised individuals, or for those who are not vaccinated.

Work the room. Make time to talk to everyone and engage in conversation. Talk to your grandma about her yummy recipes and jot them down! Ask your friend about their most interesting job or find out about your uncle’s favorite music from his youth. Show you are listening by asking open-ended questions, providing thoughtful responses, and making strong eye contact.

Write notes of gratitude to the people you’ll see at the event before you go and distribute them while there. Showing your appreciation for others can boost the mood of others as well as your own!

Take turns sharing what you’re thankful for. While waiting for dinner or sitting down to eat, go around the table and have everyone share three things they are thankful for. Make it even more interesting by setting a “no repeat” rule to get everyone really thinking.

Share favorite memories from previous holidays. Talking about years past is a great way to bond with family and friends.

If you’re hosting, ask your guests to bring a photo album to share, and put out some of your favorites. It can help stimulate happy memories and encourage people to catch up with one another.

Similarly, if you’re the host, provide reading material such as magazines, newspapers, books of short stories, etc. to encourage your guests to read and spark conversation.

Try to anticipate and plan for different viewpoints and plan how you will respond in a respectful way. Remember, not everyone has the same opinion as you, and gatherings (especially during the pandemic) can highlight our differences.

Have questions about having a safe holiday? Talk to your healthcare practitioner about your situation. For current CDC guidelines, click here.

If the ongoing pandemic has you feeling apprehensive or unable to spend time indoors with groups of people you can still connect with others. Here are some suggestions:

  • Ask to be virtually included in celebrations or plan to video call your friends/family when you know they are together to say a quick hello
  • Plan outdoor activities such as flag football, a picnic or family walk
  • Spend quality time with someone you appreciate (and feel safe to be around). Plan an activity to do together just for the fun of it.
  • Participate in a shared activity such as a virtual baking contest or holiday decoration competition

Let’s be thankful and appreciative for all of the special people in our lives, and acknowledge the significance of all that we’ve been through. We’re optimistic for an even better 2022!