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  • Danielle Matthew

Ways to Make This Year’s Holidays Special for You and Your Family

With COVID-19 cases spiking and more stay-at-home orders imposed, the holidays are likely to look a little different for everyone this year. For some, holiday traditions may need to get altered or skipped altogether, like other celebrations and events from this year. After an exhausting year of letdowns and changes, it may feel like the hope that you might generally have during this time of year has been stripped away, leaving you feeling helpless. You might be asking yourself how you can make the holidays still feel special for you and your family.

First, rekindle any lost hope.

Hope is an optimistic state of mind and a feeling of confidence that things will get better. Unlike a fleeting wish or want, we can look forward to the future with confidence, purpose, and a sense of meaning when we have hope. It’s not too late to rekindle hope for the holidays and for the New Year.

If you or your kids feel hopeless or down from situations out of your control, try these strategies to help you feel happier.

· Start with self-care. If you have kids who have been feeling down, you are likely trying to think of ways to help them feel happier. But the truth is before you can effectively help others, you need to take care of yourself. Do positive things for yourself, even if it's something as simple as taking a bath, going for a walk, journaling, meditating, or reading.

· Surround yourself with positivity. It's essential to surround yourself with people who make you feel happy versus those who consistently bring you down. If the news or social media makes you feel stressed, then limit your time on them. Surround yourself with people and the things that help give you hope this holiday season and beyond.

· Create goals based on things you can control. Set goals to help you accomplish the things that give you hope. Create a plan to help you set your goals and reward yourself when milestones are met.

Concentrate on the things you can do.

It's normal and ok to feel anxious and disappointed about bad things that you can't control or things that you're unable to do because of COVID or other reasons. But it's important not to dwell on these things. Instead, concentrate on what you can still do, including exploring new ideas and trying activities that you haven't done before.

· Get the family involved. Take time to regularly meet as a family to share individual and family goals. Give each family member an opportunity to speak up and share their thoughts. If you have free time during the holidays from no school or work, consider letting each person pick an activity for the family to do together over the next few weeks. After the holidays are over, continue to meet regularly to review goals and share ideas.

· Get out of the house. If you and your kids are always at home, the days may start feeling repetitive and dull. Although you may all be home together, you may begin to feel unconnected if you're each doing your own thing. Doing something outside of the house as a family or one-on-one with each child can help break the monotony of always being home and allow yourselves to reconnect. Taking a walk, going on short car rides, or taking a bike ride can be great activities outside of the house. When the weather cooperates, try to spend at least a little time outside each day. The sun and some fresh air can be beneficial for your emotional and physical health.

· Stay connected. One of the hardest things about this year's holiday season is that you may not be able to spend time with the people who you normally would. Although you may not be able to see them in person, there are plenty of other ways to stay connected, including social media, phone calls, and video conferencing. Both Zoom

and Google's Hangouts Meet offer free services. With a little flexibility and creative thinking, gift exchanges, family dinners, and even some games can be enjoyed with others remotely.

· Try something new. This year may be a great opportunity to try a new activity and perhaps even start a new tradition. A holiday picnic (outside if the weather is nice or inside or somewhere inside the house if the weather doesn’t cooperate), a family karaoke night, going on a hike, and playing a new game are a few ideas to consider.

· Spread some holiday cheer. Showing kindness to others can be a great way to spread holiday cheer. Baking cookies and dropping them off on a friend's porch is one inexpensive way to let friends know that you're thinking of them and that you care.

Give yourself a pat on the back.

This was a challenging year for many of us. While it may not have been easy, you've accomplished what was unimaginable to most just a year ago. Always remember there is hope and, this too shall pass. You have made it through an unprecedented year, and each day and next year bring new opportunities.

I wish you a healthy and happy holiday season.


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