5 tips to keep things festive from afar
For many of our Kea community the holidays will be a stark reminder of just how much of an effect the pandemic has had on our everyday lives. With New Zealand’s border closure allowing limited Kiwi to come home, holiday celebrations may look a little different this year. So what’s the best way to stay positive and how can we make sure celebrations still feel festive? We spoke to Clinical Psychologist Jacqui Maguire.
- Name it to tame it
Jacqui says first and foremost it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and accept that this is a difficult and challenging time. When we are separated from our loved ones and regular traditions emotions can heighten. Prioritising our wellbeing and self-care can help us not just ‘survive’’ the holiday season but rather to make the most of it.
“I always say you have to name it to tame it. Take time to acknowledge to yourself what is going on and how you feel about it. You may feel disappointed, angry, flat or upset at not being able to be where you want to be these holidays. Acknowledging that it’s okay for you or others around you to feel like this is important, as when we can label our emotions it helps regulate distress. Once we are calm, we are then in a position to proactively plan.
- Keep calm and get creative
Jacqui says people should ask themselves what would help make their holiday season meaningful. “Focus on the things you can control rather than what you can’t. Too much time ruminating on things outside our control increases distress and overwhelm, making it very difficult to make good and clear decisions.
Think about ways you can connect with family over this period. For some people it may be a big group zoom call on Christmas day, for others that will be too overwhelming and a series of one to one calls with family and friends might be better.” Having purpose, feeling connected and experiencing frequent positive emotion will be key.
- Surround yourself with familiar traditions…
While we may not be able to celebrate in person we can still connect thanks to the power of technology. Set up a time to open presents together over zoom or use a service like Teleparty which lets you watch Christmas movies together online. Jacqui says sticking to our favourite traditions can help people feel connected.
“When I was growing up we always had a champagne breakfast on Christmas Day, we ate brioche and fruit salad and listened to this one Christmas album. When I lived away from home I would put on that album and always make sure to have brioche and fruit salad on hand, sticking to this tradition made me feel more connected to my family.”
- …Or start new one
Just because celebrations this year will be different it doesn’t mean they can’t be just as enjoyable. Take this time to get out and explore somewhere you haven’t been before, or take the opportunity to do something completely different to mark the day. Helping out those in need can also be a powerful mood booster.
“We know that altruism or giving back to other people is a powerful way for people to feel connected. If you think Christmas day will be especially hard, why not spend the day volunteering at a shelter or a soup kitchen. Who knows you might even decide to start a new tradition.”
- Be mindful that we are all unique
Psychologists have coined the term ‘collective loss’ to describe the feelings people all over the globe are experiencing due to the pandemic. Jacqui says it’s important to understand that this collective loss is grief. We are grieving for the things we can’t have under the current circumstances, and like the grief experienced when we lose a loved one, everyone will react differently.
“When we are able to remember that everyone has individual ways of processing loss (both triggers and expressions of loss), it enables us to be more compassionate to those around us”.