This year has been challenging, unpredictable, and fraught with cancelled plans — from social gatherings and medical treatments to vacations and weddings. As 2020 draws to a close, our new reality has many of us wondering: what will the holiday season look like? Will we be able to see our family and friends? Will all of our holiday traditions be cancelled?
According to a new survey, 49% of Canadians say they have already planned to change their holiday traditions. Of those who intend to make changes, 74% said they would celebrate with close or immediate family members and keep social interactions to a minimum, 30% said they would hold virtual celebrations in lieu of in-person gatherings, and 19% said they plan to cancel celebrations altogether. No matter which of these groups you fall into, it can feel hard to cope and difficult to imagine enjoying the holidays this year.
But when our circumstances feel out of control, Akira by TELUS Health mental health therapist Dylan Zambrano suggests creating routines and experiences that you can rely on to help curb feelings of anxiousness, and restore a sense of calm. With this in mind, here are seven holiday plans to consider making that won’t get cancelled.
1. Schedule solitude.
Modern life is often so busy that we leave little time to enjoy simple pleasures in solitude. With more white space in your calendar this holiday season, consider scheduling a block of time for you and you alone. For example, you could take a long bath in the middle of the day, read a book for fun, watch a binge-worthy TV show, or sit with a warm drink and allow yourself to daydream. Rather than waiting until all of your “to do’s” are done (because they might never be), try prioritizing your own pleasure. You will likely notice a shift in your mindset as a result.
2. Try a DIY gift.
Have you ever received a homemade gift and thought, “I wish I had time to do that”? 2020 is a great year to put one of the DIY tutorials you’ve been pinning to good use and surprise loved ones with special deliveries. From DIY bath bombs and room sprays to homemade granola and steak spice, there are millions of how-to videos available online, and you don’t need to be crafty to pull them off.
Give the gift of health this holiday season with a Preventive Health Assessment.
3. Send holiday cards.
There are plenty of beautiful holiday e-cards out there, but getting a physical greeting in the mail will mean more to your friends and family this year than ever before. You don’t need to have a professional family photo or a custom-designed card — simply sending a hand-written note on a homemade or dollar store card will be equally sentimental.
4. Host a holiday movie watch party.
Pop some popcorn and use Netflix watch party to enjoy a festive film in real-time with your friends, co-workers, or family members. Rest assured that no one can take away your favourite holiday movie traditions!
5. Start a gratitude calendar.
Remember those advent calendars with the little chocolate squares hidden inside? You may already have a version of this in mind for your kids, but try this for yourself: every day in December, write down two things you are grateful for and call, text, or email one person you love, appreciate, respect or admire. At the start of 2021, you will have pages full of reasons to start the new year with a sense of abundance — and you will have made 31 people smile.
6. Volunteer online.
For many Canadians, the holiday season involves a tradition of giving back. Most organizations won’t be able to facilitate volunteering in the ways that they normally do. Still, there are lots of groups across the country who are in need of virtual volunteers. Click here for more information about volunteering virtually.
7. Host a virtual baking or cooking party.
Annual holiday cookie swaps and large dinner parties will likely be off the table this year — and we know that their virtual counterparts aren’t the same. But while another Zoom party may not sound exciting, they can still create a sense of connection with people you may typically only see during the holidays. If you usually host a holiday event, a little creativity can go a long way in making a virtual version memorable: try sharing a recipe with attendees ahead of time so you can all cook and enjoy a dish “together”. Or drop off a few homemade gingerbread cookies and decorations to each attendee’s doorstep so that everyone can participate in a hands-on activity “together”.
You're an employer?
Consider sending small individual gifts to your team members in lieu of a holiday party this year. And whether or not gift-giving is feasible, make sure you take time to thank each employee wholeheartedly. It’s been a hard year for everyone, and you made it through together. Making sure your team feels appreciated and valued is the best gift you can give.
The holidays can be a hard time for anyone, but this year is sure to present its own unique challenges. Having 24/7 access to virtual mental healthcare and primary care for the whole family can help. Set up your Akira by TELUS Health account today to make sure you have access to clinicians as soon as you need them.