I’m not going to silver-line it: a lot of things are awful right now, and a lot of things we might look forward to at this time of year – holiday parties, gathering with family and friends, going out to restaurants for celebrations, taking winter vacations – are all cancelled. This pandemic has given us all sorts of problems and taken away many of our joys. It sucks – the year, the pandemic, the holidays during the pandemic. There, I said it, and I didn’t try to suger-coat it: It sucks!
….So is this going to be a new genre of depressing blog? No, I promise- keep reading! I simply want to validate that it is normal and ok to have negative emotions, especially around this time of year and especially for those of us who are grieving lost loved ones. We are all grieving something this year. You can feel disappointed, sad, angry, anxious, or whatever feelings come up; those feelings can be there, and also not dominate your experience over the holidays or in general. I want to offer recognition of what is awful AND notice what is ok, redeeming, or positive. I’ve told my clients and friends, this is the year of AND! This is hard and we can do hard things. This is awful and some things are still ok. This sucks and yet we can still find joy. This is unfair and there is still a lot to be grateful for.
We’re allowed to feel like 2020 sucks, to feel upset that the holidays are not going to go the way we want, to feel angry that all the normal stuff is cancelled. We can notice and validate those feelings without getting stuck on what is awful, or feeling guilty for thinking it. Our gut knows when we try to force the positive and ignore the negative. So notice your negative feelings, accept them, let them be.
AND notice what feels okay, notice that all sorts of things are not cancelled! A lot of things are still good, fun, exciting, and true. Notice these moments and feelings, because where the mind goes, the mood follows. Focusing on positives doesn’t discredit or undo the negatives; it simply shifts our attention and energy to allow good experiences rather than feeling stuck. It helps us be more present for what is still going well, the experiences of calm, joy, or gratitude that still occur all the time if we can tune in and tap in to them. I highly encourage you to make your own list of “things that don’t suck” or “things that aren’t cancelled” – or go all-out and make a gratitude list!
Without further ado, here are lovely things that aren’t cancelled this holiday season, and I hope you’ll add to it as well:
- sending gifts and cards
- seeing loved ones virtually from near and far
- decorating the house
- driving or walking around to see christmas lights
- listening to a guided meditation
- taking walks
- drawing, painting, journaling, and other creative activities
- curling up with a good book
- drinking hot cocoa with marshmallows
- watching Christmas movies
- listening to music
- doing yoga with an online class or youtube video (shoutout to yoga with Adriene, my favorite quarantine Youtube yogi)
- seeing friends outside safely with social distancing
- making New Year’s resolutions
- baking cookies
- trying a new recipe
- calling a friend or family member you haven’t talked to in a while to say hello
- donating to those who are less fortunate
- giving love and compassion to ourselves and others
- giving forgiveness where it is needed
- texting random memes to make your friends laugh
- playing games online with friends (I’ll admit, Among Us is pretty fun)
- watching tv
- doing a puzzle
- coloring mandalas (print some out for free online!)
- cleaning the house and feeling very proud of adulting during a pandemic
- ordering carryout from your favorite local restaurant
- bringing baked goods or homemade cards to friends or neighbors
- getting dressed up / wearing pants with a button (are you getting a sense of my yoga pants pandemic uniform?)
- sitting around a firepit or by the fireplace (or turning on the Netflix fireplace!)
- doing a virtual toast on New Year’s Eve
- having meaningful conversations
- having hope
…keep going and add your own “not cancelled” positive things, or start a new list for yourself or your family. Let yourself have a sense of humor about it and get creative. Notice how it feels to focus on things that are still available, possible, and positive. What else is on your list?