In a year where “doomscrolling” has entered the cultural lexicon, every turn on the news and social media seems to deliver another reason to feel increased stress, anxiety, and depression. And while 2020 has been chock-full of history-making events, it’s clear many of these stressors are going to continue beyond the calendar year.
The concept of “finding your stride” is an ongoing challenge in this new decade. We’ve been expected to continue showing up for our families, friends, partners, kids, and employers, all while attempting to cope with the same anxieties, fears, and concerns.
Any holiday season can be difficult, with increased activities and planning on top of our already busy schedules. Despite the pandemic, this year is no different. While we may not be gathering with friends and family, we’re creating new traditions and adapting old ones, often with limited resources. Our usual ways of coping may need to be adjusted to meet the demands of the unique times we find ourselves in. So, how can we keep our sanity in check this holiday season?
How often have you read or been encouraged to slow down, take a break, and stop to be mindful in the moment? And how many times have you been able to do just that? For nearly nine months, the world has been gripped with pandemic precautions and anxieties, to the point of collective fatigue. While the holidays have traditionally been a time of gathering and entertaining, this year’s season may be markedly different in light of rising COVID-19 case numbers and shifting politics and policies around prevention.
There can be grief around missed traditions and gatherings, and it’s also okay to make space to view the holiday season as a time to pause and catch one’s breath.
How might you spend the 2020 holiday season differently than in previous years?
What new (and maybe better) traditions might bring joy?
The key is finding what works for you. If you get energy in reaching out to those you haven’t connected with in some time, make a plan to do so. Maybe it’s a good book and great food. Start thinking about how to use the holiday time, and time off work wisely, since taking the time to recharge can pay dividends heading into the new year.
Encouraging you to reach out and connect with friends or family might feel less than helpful at this point. But it’s also important to maintain relationships. With cooler weather moving in across the country and many indoor options off-limits (and also a bad idea anyway per the CDC), now is a good time to reassess how you socialize.
Zoom has become a pandemic standby and more traditional forms of communication are making a comeback. But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate outdoor activity. With the right equipment and preparation, you can still enjoy a walk or run with a friend, which might even double as self-care, if physical activity is your thing. If you’re not ready for face-to-face chats yet, schedule a virtual date by taking a walk while chatting on the phone (my best friend and I have fondly dubbed these “walkie talkies”). I’ve even seen the odd cyclist chatting into his earbud on the trail. Whatever your style is, venturing outside is a great way to check more than one box. Remember to get creative with how you connect with the people you love. Now more than ever, we need to feel we’re part of something bigger.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned as the world has turned more to remote work, is that we can’t communicate with each other enough. This extends to having tough conversations with friends and family on the levels of precautions you’re comfortable with. Having these conversations helps with expectation setting, especially if you’re planning in-person get togethers. This practice can benefit future holiday seasons as well, given the holidays can be rife with negotiations over who is hosting what, where it will happen, gift giving, and so forth. With everyone facing their own personal battles these days, anticipate that some of these conversations may be tougher than others.
In the earlier phases of the pandemic, once the country had shifted to varying levels of remote work and closures, some were noting the positive effects of adapting to this brave new world. Afterall, not having to sit in 2+ hours of rush hour commute is certainly something to rejoice in. And let’s not forget the biggest winners in this whole mess–the pets who now see us 24/7. The end of the year is an opportunity to pause and check in with yourself on whether you’ve experienced growth around the challenges presented in 2020. It’s okay to celebrate the victories that have come with adversity, especially since growth only happens when we get outside of our comfort zone.