This holiday season, our beloved traditions stand on shaky ground. Feeling sad, stressed, and anxious is completely natural — so is loneliness and missing your loved ones a little extra.
Because we know the magic of the holidays may feel harder to access than usual, we at Hudson Healing Arts wanted to share two powerful antidotes: gratitude and connection.
2020 may not be a year to get everything we want...but it is a year to be grateful for what we have. Here’s a few ideas on how to make the most of this unusual holiday season, and maybe even start some new traditions, too!
The Power of Gratitude
Did you know the human brain is wired to concentrate on the negative and overlook the positive? That’s why it’s so, so important to be intentional about cultivating gratitude. The pay-off is well worth the effort: Gratitude boosts your mental and physical health, strengthens your relationships, enhances your happiness and self-esteem, eases anxiety, and improves your sleep (and that’s just the short list).
Plus, it can help bring back that spark of holiday magic by opening your eyes to the miracles all around you. Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and the best part is that it’s contagious. When you start to truly recognize your blessings, your family and friends may just be inspired to do the same.
Here’s just a short list of things to be grateful for to inspire your own gratitude practice…
These are just a few broad ideas, but the possibilities are endless. Writing down a few things you’re grateful for is a wonderful way to start the day with some perspective, or to close the day on a peaceful note. It helps to find a journal you love to inspire you to write, or you can simply keep a list in your phone (or in your head). While most of us only share what we’re grateful for on Thanksgiving, you can even start a new family tradition and take turns sharing more regularly...little ones will have fun getting creative and can even make it into a game of who can count the most blessings.
And if everyone is having a really, really bad day? It’s enough to simply be grateful that the day is over, and that tomorrow is a fresh start!
Hopefully, a gratitude practice can help you feel more connected to your loved ones just by reinforcing how fortunate you are to have them in your life. While many of us can’t spend the holidays with our families in person, there are some creative workarounds that can help you celebrate and combat loneliness.
We know, opening presents via video chat isn’t the same as in person...but it’s still comforting to see our loved ones’ faces. There’s plenty of platforms to choose from, like Zoom, FaceTime, Whatsapp, FaceParty, Skype, and Google Hangouts. Perhaps consider getting a video call on the books ahead of time, even if just for a few minutes.
Relive the holidays of the past.
Now’s a perfect time to take a stroll down memory lane and reminisce on your favorite holiday memories. Why not use time you’d normally be celebrating to make a scrapbook, print photos to display around the house, or watch those ancient home videos that have been collecting dust? Bonus points for reaching out to the people featured in the photos/videos to let them know how much you cherish your memories together!
Put pen to paper.
Instead of sending the typical holiday card with just a photo, consider writing notes to your loved ones expressing just how much they mean to you. After all, who doesn’t love a handwritten card? Plus, you never know just how uplifting your caring words can be, or just how much someone may need to hear them. To extend even more goodwill, send holiday cards to those who may be feeling extra lonely this year, such as your local nursing home.
Make a new family video.
If anyone in your family has some video editing skills, one fun way to feel connected to the whole clan is to have each person send in a brief video. It could be them simply sharing how they’re doing, or there can be a fun theme (favorite holiday memory, most surprising fact about them, etc.). Then have your resident video whiz put it together and send it out. You may be surprised just how much you learn about your relatives!
Create a shared family playlist.
Nothing connects us like music. Though you might miss singing and dancing with your loved ones this year, one creative workaround is to create a playlist on Spotify or Apple Music that the whole family can share. All you have to do is click “Add collaborators” to invite others to add their own songs. Knowing you’re all listening to the same tunes can make you feel that much more connected in spirit! Plus, you may just gain some new favorite songs.
Experiment with new traditions.
Let’s be honest: Sometimes our holiday traditions can cause more stress than they’re worth. If you’ve felt yourself slipping into overdrive the past few years, there’s no better time to reevaluate. With our typical festivities stripped away, it may become more clear than ever what truly matters. Maybe it’s as simple as trying a new dish you’ve always been interested in (and giving up on the one that stresses you out!), scaling back on mass gift giving, or choosing to give experiences instead of presents. Whatever it is, embracing this year to do something new that you wouldn’t normally try can help you feel empowered, rather than defeated.
Give your loved ones the gift of wellness.
Hudson Healing Arts offers a wide range of treatments, many of which are based upon ancient wellness techniques, for balancing body, mind, and spirit. Surprising your loved ones with a gift card is the ultimate show of affection...who couldn’t use a little relaxation during this time?
Cozy up with a good book.
When you’re feeling extra lonely, reading is a wonderful way to get out of your head and feel more connected with the bigger picture. Books remind us that we’re never truly alone, and just how much every single one of us has in common. Seeing our favorite beloved characters overcome obstacles is also a great reminder that we too will get through rough times and come out stronger on the other end.
As always, we at Hudson Healing Arts hope that at least one of these ideas resonates with you and makes this holiday season a little more joyful. We are sending good energy and wishes for health and safety to all of you!
Also, if you’re looking for a peaceful break from the bustle of the season, we’re still offering remote services as well as safe in-person sessions for select services. Check out our full list of healing modalities here, and “like” us on Facebook for regular encouraging and informative posts on wellness.
Hannah Chenoweth is a Hoboken-based conference producer and freelance writer who enjoys covering all aspects of health and wellness.