Holiday season is here, and now, more than ever, many of us are looking for comfort, normalcy and togetherness amidst the global pandemic. Although the holiday season may look different due to COVID-19, we can still create and strengthen connection with our friends, family and loved ones during this time. Here are some ideas for how to make meaningful memories and maintain closeness in relationships during the holidays:
Schedule time to spend with the people you love the most – sitting together for a meal, drinking eggnog, decorating gingerbread houses and cookies, and participating in a “White Elephant” gift exchange are some examples of activities and rituals that friends and families participate in during the holiday season. Many of these activities are pre-organized and do not occur spontaneously. The same way we prepare for holiday activities, we can plan ahead and designate time to spend with the people we cherish. After asking your friends and family when they can carve out time to speak, you can block that time off in your calendar – this can be something to look forward to!
Create shared experiences – when we collectively experience relatability and closeness, and feel enriched emotionally, physically and perhaps spiritually, we create what is called a shared experience – that is, we build a connection with others. We actively create shared experiences through immersion, purpose, passion, creativity and playfulness. This holiday season, we can try to participate in novel shared experiences! Some ways to create virtual shared experiences include each family member cooking a holiday dish and presenting it to others, going around the “table,” or Zoom/FaceTime boxes, and sharing stories, playing games such as Charades, Heads Up, or Family Feud, or having a “movie night” by watching the same movie and then being a movie critic!
Tired of technology? Many of us are experiencing “COVID fatigue” or “Zoom fatigue,” and the thought of spending time with friends, family and loved ones virtually sounds even more exhausting! We can still create connection with those close to us by planning physically distanced walks, organizing outdoor potluck meals or taking a wintery hike.
Go “old school” when expressing holiday cheers and wishes to others – send handwritten letters that share your thoughts and feelings instead of writing the hundredth email for the week. You can also include a photograph or drawing of you and the recipient that is meaningful and special to you!
Create new holiday habits and traditions that can occur within your home. Holiday traditions provide a sense of belonging, create intergenerational connections within the family, form unity amongst family members and build a sense of stability and consistency despite other changes that are occurring within the world – these are some of the many reasons why holiday traditions are so important! Some new holiday habits and traditions your family can participate in include creating homemade holiday decorations (paper snowflakes and snow globes), making holiday cards for others, cooking new recipes or participating in a Zoom baking class, ending the night with homemade hot cocoa or reading a favorite book out loud.
Cultivate and express gratitude – acknowledge what you appreciate about yourself and others. Creating a state of thankfulness enables us to produce a state of positivity. You can create a gratitude journal where you write down things you love about yourself and others, as well as what you are thankful for. You can also share these thoughts with your friends, family and loved ones!
Engage in open conversations with others regarding their thoughts, feelings and expectations during the holiday season, and make sure to also express your own thoughts, feelings and expectations as well! You can validate feelings of disappointment, anger and sadness (especially with young children) and ask how you can best support that person during this time. You can also set boundaries based on your comfort level, be transparent about your needs and express empathy.
Celebrate safely – our physical and mental health can still be a priority during the holiday season. We can remind ourselves that big celebrations and parties with our family, friends and loved ones are nice, but the root of holiday spirit is love, connection and appreciativeness. We can still embrace the holiday season, engage in acts of self-care, create shared experiences while being physically distant, and be grateful.
Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season filled with laughter and joy!
If you or someone in your family is struggling during these unprecedented times and changes throughout the holiday season, you are not alone! We are continuing to provide psychotherapy services here at Liz Morrison Therapy via teletherapy – please do not hesitate to reach out for further support by calling 347-758-2985 or emailing Liz@LizMorrisonTherapy.com