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Preparing for a very different holidays: Where do you begin?

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We’ve had to make many adjustments and sacrifices this year, and the holidays are shaping up to be a particular difficult time. It’s a time for family, parties and big meals around the table. So, with the holidays around the corner (yup – they’re almost here!), how can we prepare ourselves for something new and different when we want our traditional and familiar? It won’t be easy. BUT, they can still be meaningful.

It starts with re-calibrating our expectations.
With strong social gathering restrictions expected to continue for the near future, you already know you won’t be able to see everyone you want. It will be difficult to not see friends and extended family members that are not in your bubble – perhaps some of whom you only see over the holidays. Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, focus on what you can, and adjust your expectations accordingly. Here are some tips:

  • Set new traditions
    Is there an opportunity to create new family traditions that you’ll always remember (because of the crazy year it’s been)? Maybe it’s a new recipe you create that’s just yours or a decision to donate to charity instead of gifting.
  • Keep old ones alive – in new ways
    Visiting Santa at the mall may be out of the question, but there are plenty of online options to bring him into your home virtually. Put a twist on gift-giving by doing food box deliveries or a gift card to a local business. Think creatively – and be open to change.
  • Feel the festive spirit
    Although the holidays will look (and feel) different, that doesn’t mean they still can’t be fun and festive! You can still listen to favourite tunes, cook and bake family favourites and even do virtual gift exchanges. The lights will still be up, and there will be positivity in the air. Soak it up.
  • Skip spontaneity
    Social restrictions means spontaneity is challenging. So, plan ahead for your gatherings, including who you are seeing (i.e., the people in your bubble), when (so that everyone will do what they need to be prepared), and the rules you will follow.

  • Less parties = more recharging
    So one silver lining: fewer functions means more time to relax, unwind and recharge. It’s safe to say most of us really need that right now. Capitalize on downtime before work and school start up again.

It still includes family and friends.
We are all now well-versed in online platforms to stay connected – so keep it up over the holidays. They can be an especially isolating time of year, particularly if you aren’t seeing many people. Be sure to set up calls with friends and family to keep connected, and keep your spirits up. If you don’t have people to enjoy a holiday dinner with, suggest a video call over the dessert course with friends so that you still feel like you’re celebrating something special.

And maybe make a special effort to connect with people in your circle who are alone and could use some good cheer.

It will include new ways to celebrate – but hold the same meaning (if you let it).
At the end of the day, try to focus on what the essence of the holidays means to you and preserve it in the ways you can. And remember – you’ve had to adjust, pivot, manage and deal ALL year! Draw on these strengths and learnings over the holidays, and allow yourself to enjoy it. You deserve it.

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Is there an opportunity to create new family traditions that you’ll always remember?

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Stronger Minds content is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to establish a standard of care with a reader, you should always seek the advice of your mental health professional, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. If you think you may have a medical or mental health emergency, call your doctor, go to the nearest hospital emergency department, or call emergency services immediately. You should never disregard or delay seeking medical advice relating to treatment or standard of care because of information contained herein. Medical information changes constantly. Therefore the information herein should not be considered current, complete or exhaustive, nor should you rely on such information to recommend a course of treatment for you or any other individual. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.