While the typical signs of Christmas are all around us-from the festive decorations to TV holiday ads, the way we celebrate will be different this year. With Covid-19 concerns, the usual traditions that bring us together around the holidays from church services to family gatherings are being scaled back or going on-line. These are just some of the changes that require us to adapt and adjust as to different expectations this holiday season but hopefully we can still find ways to “celebrate” so we can nurture the good feelings this season can bring.
Here are some thoughts and ideas to encourage feelings of joy during the holiday season:
Make a practice of focusing on the present moment. You can use your senses to help you. Whether slowing down to enjoy the beauty of a sunset, or Christmas on the beauty of nature, Christmas lights or the simple pleasures of warm drinks or a soft blanket, laughing at a funny Christmas movie or reading a thoughtful book. Learning to relish a special moment increases our sense of wonder and awe which in turn strengthens are mind’s ability to generate positive thoughts and feelings.
Reach out. While we are sheltering in place, our ability to gather in person is limited, which can leave us feeling isolated. While we may not be able to get together in person, reaching out via phone, video or even a letter still remains. Is there someone you have been meaning to call? Taking the initiative to reach out gives an opportunity to make a connection we might otherwise miss. Plan some holiday calls in advance so you have something to look forward to on Christmas day.
Be creative. Whether it’s baking Christmas cookies or finding a new DIY project, creativity is a gift that invites our full focus on our experience. As an added benefit, immersing ourselves in a project allows us to disconnect from anxiety and worry.
Nurture your spirituality. Christmas is a sacred time for many people and there are great spiritual traditions of using our “alone time” to practice solitude; the conscious act of taking time alone to nurture our spirit and soul through prayer, meditation, read a sacred text, listening to music, or journaling about your thoughts and feelings
While these new ideas may replace all that is lost this year, we can experiment with finding new ways to celebrate that might just become traditions next year!
Nancy Walters is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #118704.