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Ah, the holidays! That special time of year, when you usually travel to see friends and family, only to field inappropriate questions from inebriated Uncle Frank. That time is slowly creeping up upon us again. This year, however, the holiday season has taken on a whole new dimension. By now, we are all aware the pandemic is an unavoidable part of our everyday life. Like most activities, events and celebrations this year, the 2020 holidays are likely to be somewhat different. This means that normal things such as gathering with a big group to share a great meal, battling Black Friday crowds, holiday parties, last minute shopping, or even simply going to visit Santa at the mall with the little ones, may not be possible. Since no one WANTS their Thanksgiving dinner or other holiday celebrations turning into superspreader events, this year’s holiday gatherings might mean enjoying a small dinner with only the people who live in your household. But what if you live alone and far away from your loved ones? Just the thought of spending the holidays separated from family and friends can make people feel even more isolated and lonely, which can increase stress and anxiety.

While it is very easy to focus on all the things we cannot do right now, we forget that many holiday traditions, which we hold dear, can still happen just as they always have. Just because you’re social distancing doesn’t mean holiday celebrations need to cease altogether. If you’re still in the holiday spirit this year, there are always realistic and tangible ways to have meaningful experiences. Or, perhaps, even though the holidays don’t necessarily need to be cancelled, you can also use the excuse of a global pandemic to do less, disconnect from the chaos for some much deserved “me time.” However you choose to celebrate, there’s a way to highlight the spirit of the season with simplicity, mindfulness, practicality and most of all gratitude.

If you are feeling festive this year, make the most of tiny mindful activities. Even though they might be completely different than anything you previously experienced, you can make this time of year just as special, even while social distancing. You can still take out all the Christmas lights and decorate your house for the holidays in addition to making your great-grandmother’s green bean casserole for Thanksgiving. You can send handwritten holiday cards and presents to loved ones near and far. How about building a gingerbread house or baking some pies for your elderly neighbors and delivering them while safely distanced from others? You can always take a drive around your neighborhood, taking in all the beautiful holiday decorations. Stay positive and get excited about all the holiday themed things you still can do. Focusing on the small, but meaningful activities, allows you to emphasize what’s really important and reflect upon what you value most.  

We don't have to continue holiday traditions which leave us overwhelmed, broke & tired.

We all know that as awesome as the holidays are, they can also be a bit stressful. The holidays are supposed to be a time for gathering, but oftentimes, all of that togetherness can be a bit overwhelming. Whipping up a Thanksgiving dinner for 30 is not an easy accomplishment, especially when dealing with ‘those’ relatives you would rather avoid. What should be a time of thankfulness and gladness often finds a way to turn into mayhem and madness. Fortunately, this challenging time has also created a unique opportunity for you to embrace your power to say ‘no’ and side step the annual family get-together in favor of more “alone time.” Simply invoke the pandemic guidelines as your justification for skipping the holiday festivities this year. Instead, listen to your mind, body and heart. Take a walk and clear your head. Reach out to those you care about, but might have lost touch with. Do something good, something which benefits yourself and others around you. Whether you’re planted in front of the fireplace with a good book or volunteering to deliver meals to the less fortunate, remember to be grateful for all of the things which make our lives worthwhile. Take comfort in the undeniable fact that this, too, shall pass. After all, the holidays are all about gratitude, love, and patience.  

Whichever way you choose to celebrate this year, make sure to have a safe and happy holiday season.

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