I think we can all agree, 2020 has been tough. The seasonal “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” wishes seem to ring hollow, and for many the sentiments are difficult to embrace. Instead of a month of nonstop parties with friends and family, this year the holidays feel slower, filled with time to reflect on past Christmases and opportunities to create alternative ways to connect. The season is about sharing love with one another, and no matter who you have to share yours with this year, remember to share it with yourself. Take these quiet moments to be kind to you. It will be the best present you will receive–guaranteed.
Do the next best right thing – Kathy LeMay, founder, president, and CEO of Raising Change says that we should take one task on our to-do list and focus on it. Don’t rush. Don’t speed through it. Breathe. Write that personal email to someone you haven’t connected with in awhile. Take a few minutes to cut the article out of the paper. Slow down. Don’t speed up. Take your time with each correspondence, activity, and phone call. You will be more creative. You’ll feel more relaxed, and suddenly you’ll find yourself enjoying year-end activities.
Keep it simple – Stress levels can increase dramatically this time of year, especially if you have too much on your plate. Make sure you’re not setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. Remember, everything doesn’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to do everything yourself.
Get plenty of sleep – Adequate sleep is beneficial in so many ways, and this time of year it can help you strengthen your resolve, improve your sanity and maintain your weight. Some studies also show that when you routinely clock a good night’s sleep, you’ll be more likely to make better food choices. Science also shows that sleep deprivation can lead to higher levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone, ghrelin, likely leading to a case of next-day munchies and a holiday of sugary sweet bad decisions.
Get some fresh air – Go into your calendar and schedule yourself 10 minutes of fresh air 3 days this week. Whether it’s going outside and feeling the cold air or the warm sun, going for a walk with no destination, or finding a favorite tree to look at, take 30 minutes this week. You won’t miss the time by taking three 10-minute breaks. You will get a fresh, energized perspective. Blood will flow better to your brain. You’ll return calmer and more refreshed. You’ll look at the list, do the next best right thing and say to yourself, “Oh, I have got this.”
Even though COVID has cancelled many gatherings, with some thought and proper planning we can still connect with our extended family and friends this year – from a distance – and honor holiday traditions in different, more creative and satisfying ways.
Do some holiday baking – Sure you can connect by video and just talk, but if there are cookies you usually bake with your daughter, or sweet breads with your mom – do it – virtually. You can order ingredients for delivery for yourself and the others, set a start time, and connect via video. The chatter, the laughter and the moments will still happen, it’s just the hugs you’ll need to postpone.
Have a meal – Whether it’s typical holiday fare or pizza in pajamas, you can still have a family meal. You can connect virtually with those you usually enjoy the day with, have your own choice of food and still enjoy the familiar conversations and laughter between family and friends.
Open gifts – Chances are even though you’re not together, gifts have been purchased, sent, and placed under the tree. Set a time and connect virtually so you can share the love behind each moment, and further connect during this unprecedented time.
Ultimately this season you need to take a break, take a breath, and nurture yourself and your loved ones. Crisis, such as the one we’re currently dealing with, brings out the best in us. It reminds us to stop and think about what truly matters. While the holidays look different this year, if we take time to take care of ourselves and safely connect with one another, we can still find plenty of ways and plenty of reasons to celebrate.