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Serve Up Less Stress For This Years Holidays

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

Congrats. You’ve almost made it to the end of an extraordinarily difficult year filled with

numerous unknowns, an abundance of masks, hand sanitizer, financial distress, and one which has us residing in a new world previously unknown and unfathomable to most of us.

And now the holidays are upon us.

If you are one of the fortunate ones; still working, still healthy and your family is healthy and

safe, you have much to be grateful for.

And yet, this season brings with it additional challenges and stresses on top of the normal extra holiday stress we experience.

Not much about this whole year has been “normal” so why start now? I encourage all of us to get creative in answering the question, how can we safely “gather” and celebrate? For some of us that may mean cancelling the usual festivities and serving up a less stressful holiday rather than a more stressful one. Perhaps this year, you might gather virtually where every single member of your extended family can safely celebrate in their own home, yet together. The science is telling us to love one another from a distance. One need only listen to the news for a New York minute to discover the country is on fire with Covid-19.

As I write this, I have just experienced a dear friend tell me that she flew to another state to

visit family. A family member came down with a fever - and in the course of our 45 minute

conversation, she got the news that the family member she just traveled with and sat next to in a restaurant, now has tested positive for Covid-19.

These are trying times for sure. Stressful times. But one thing we can do is make the choices that keep us and everyone safe, and still enjoy the holidays. Here’s some ideas worth considering.

1. Focus on your mindset and attitude. You can view this time as a loss of your normal life and focus on all that you’ve lost, or, you can focus on the blessings you still have.

2. Stay safe and consider options to celebrate with those you love. Think out of the box...way out of the box. Might you have an outdoor tailgate party in a parking lot or park where every family is parked 6’ or more away, and eats only the foods they brought?

Might you wish to stay indoors and have a virtual celebration? What if you gathered but

kept masks on, physically distanced, and did not have a meal together (that would

necessitate taking masks off around others we don’t live with) to minimize risk? You

have options. Focus on them and the benefits of each one. Enlist the cooperation of

family with the reminder “I love you too much to get too close!”

3. Abandon the idea of perfection. This won’t be the perfect Christmas with the perfect table settings, food etc. Or at least it doesn’t have to be. Part of our stress often comes from trying to do too much- or be all things. Perhaps this is the season to get back to

basics. What are we celebrating and why does it matter? Is there a purpose to the

season for us besides the glitter and gifts? If there were ever a time to rethink our

values and priorities, it’s now.

4. Create joy. Many of us live in a constant pursuit of happiness, only to be left feeling like were holding an empty bag. Can we still find happiness even now? The answer is a

resounding yes, however it may not come packaged in the usual wrappings… or trappings… read the blog happiness vs. inner contentment. Choose to find your joy each and every day in the simple things; a gentle touch from your partner, the smile of a baby, a walk in nature. Reimagine what else can offer you joy – and pursue it.

5. Do be intentional. Don’t go on holiday autopilot. Don’t do all the usual stuff in the usual way. Stop, think and ask yourself some necessary questions… How much can I/ we

spend on gifts without incurring more debt? What should we say no to this year because

that is in our or others best interest? What can I/we do differently that would bring back

the right spirit of the holidays? How can we lean into family, friends, and the community

in a way that is meaningful? What could I let go of this year? Who do I know that might

just need the love, time and support I can lend? What talents can I/ we offer to our


These are unusual historic times no doubt. That offers us the opportunity to live with more

intention. We can experience less stress and better manage the distress we are feeling if we

take the time to reflect, engage in some good productive thinking, and invite some real and

meaningful conversations with those we love.

This is the year to serve up more joy and less stress and enjoy each precious day.



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