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It’s the Holidays and we’re in a Pandemic…

5 ideas to make this season a little sweeter!

With BC in a second lockdown phase and our holiday gatherings under a ban, it’s no doubt that this December is going to present new challenges for us all. Whether you’re adjusting your holiday plans for a smaller table setting or trying to determine how you will see friends, we are faced with more pressure in a season already riddled with a history of stress. Take a few moments now to gain from our tips to pandemic-proof your holiday season. 

Here we’re sharing five tips, tools, and strategies to help make your holiday season a positive and memorable one, despite the social and physical restrictions required to keep us all safer!

  1. Check-in with yourself! Invite uncomfortable feelings with compassion

It’s normal to have feelings of grief and discomfort this season and additionally with the resulting changes to the pandemic has brought about. The key to getting through the difficulty of the pandemic comes from letting there be space for these challenging emotions with compassion. 

Validate the challenges this year has presented to you and your loved ones. Notice your inner voice and imbue a tone of compassion as you allow moments of discomfort with a welcome and gentle reception. Welcome the unwelcome for a few moments at a time. And with compassion, identify what you need for comfort ensuring your choices are healthy in nature. (Maybe delay that extra glass of wine?)

Take some much-needed time out for yourself where you are resting, pursuing a hobby, or interest you find relaxing, interesting, and enjoyable. Take a moment now to schedule some time for you to rest, restore and simply be.

2. Focus on what you can control

Focusing solely on what is out of our control fosters anxiety. Pull your attention back to the things in your life that you can control, in the here and now. This can include focusing on your weekly routine, some special new holiday plans with loved ones and/or your to-do list. Resist thinking too far ahead. An anxious brain is fed by attempting to control the future, the uncontrollable…and this is a surefire way to maintain and elevate an already-anxious state. Your brain and anxiety respond well to structure and routine. You can also simply pull your attention to the sensations of your breath. Now this is something that is predictable, something you can trust to be there from moment to moment

3. Practice virtual gratitude for loved ones

Just because in-person shopping and gatherings are discouraged doesn’t mean you cannot show your friends and family some appreciation. Find new creative ways to show your gratitude with special letters, cards, homemade gifts or take advantage of online gift-giving services to keep the tradition of gifts alive no matter where your loved ones are across the globe. Schedule that Zoom gathering and make an extra effort to recognize those with additional challenges to physical closeness and reach out as a part of your practice of extending compassion and in the spirit of the holiday season.

4. Spend time outside doing physical activity

Without question, the relationship among mood, anxiety and fitness is strong. Research has clearly established the connection between regular physical activity and elevated mood. Plan different ways you can stay active: two walks a day, run, stationary bike, weights, online fitness, yoga… or whatever works for you to maintain and/or grow your level of activity. And don’t forget, we can meet friends and family outside! So, make your activity plans over the holidays to include social connections if you can!

5. Schedule your Holiday traditions

Keep the holiday spirit alive – bringing forward some of your favourite traditions. Whether it’s cookie baking and decorating,  a holiday puzzle, a classic holiday recipe or a walk around a neighbourhood displaying seasonal lights, you know what you enjoy most. Be sure to schedule these markings of the season in your calendar!

And, if you’re so inclined, here’s a link to have a virtual visit with Santa!