You’ve probably seen a slew of articles pertaining to holiday stressors during this time of year. 2020 is no exception, but as we all know, it’s a bit of a different animal. While some of us may be going about the holidays as usual, others may be feeling more isolated or depressed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These people may not be able to engage in the same holiday activities that they usually do. My family hosts an ugly ornament exchange every year that brings together almost all of our friends and family and, of course, we’ve needed to cancel that this year. It can make for a challenging holiday season for an already challenging year.
Some of these tips I’ve seen over and over again. “Take time off,” “take advantage of your organization’s EAP,” etc. These are solid tips, but I’d like to share some more out-of-the-box ideas that could help you, your colleagues or your loved ones approach this season a little differently.
1.) Care for Others (supplies, drives, etc.)
A lot of the idea behind the holidays is caring for others. However, we can easily get wrapped up in our own little bubble of figuring out presents or goodies for our inner circle. Especially with the nature of things this year, there are so many organizations struggling to make ends meet. See if there are any organizations around you that need help with toy or food drives. This not only helps prevent isolation, but can give you more of a sense of purpose and charity during the season. It is something more than the retail overload that many of us experience throughout the year.
Of course with COVID-19 still remaining rampant, you may not feel comfortable volunteering in-person. There are tons of organizations hosting virtual drives or even have wish lists on Amazon that you can purchase and send items directly to them. You can also identify an organization that is important to you and create a campaign for them on Facebook, GoFundMe, etc. I did a virtual pledge for the American Cancer Society that involved walking 35 miles in a month, and raised over $1,000. There are many opportunities to give back to your community, whether in-person or from the comfort of your couch.
2.) Virtual Clubs
If you’re feeling more lonely than usual, look into a virtual club surrounding one of your interests. This can be pertaining to art, books or whatever your little heart desires. Meetup is a great place to start if you are stuck and looking to branch out your network. Otherwise, you can reach out to coworkers, friends, family, etc. and figure out a common interest to get together and chat. One of my high-school friends is doing a “Nailed It!” spin-off where we all come together and work on decorating a cake at the same time. The possibilities are endless!
3.) Weekly Lunches
One of the suggestions from my organization was to have a weekly lunch with your staff. This can be especially beneficial if you all are working remotely. Call me weird, but I actually miss my coworkers quite a bit. A weekly get-together allows us to stay connected, see if anyone needs help and see what everyone is up to outside of work. Having a meeting surrounding lunch can make this get-together more casual and less like a “meeting.” Before COVID-19, my coworkers and I often got together to go on walks, hit up a happy hour, etc. This is a nice way to still get that connection while staying safe and handling quarantine restrictions.
4.) Subscription Boxes
Are you looking for something fresh to do while being stuck at home? Perhaps a new hobby for your kids to try out, or just something that isn’t watching Netflix? Subscription boxes can be a fun way to try something out without being bothered to go out and buy it. These boxes come in many different themes and sizes. There are fitness subscription boxes, cooking subscription boxes, art subscription boxes…and for most of them, you can get them as frequently or infrequently as you wish. I’m definitely not made of money, so I’m one of those people who likes to do a trial before I fully commit!
Check out some of the best subscription boxes for 2020 here. Maybe you can even do a virtual club surrounding a subscription box, too!
5.) Practice Gratitude with Your Phone
Practicing gratitude is one of the most beneficial things we can incorporate into our routine. It’s also one of the things that can easily slip our minds. I’ve been writing down three things that I’m grateful for every day before I go to bed. However, this habit comes and goes. Some nights I’m just too tired to write down my gratitude, or I’m just not feeling it that day.
That being said, I’ve always got my phone on me. I heard this awesome tip to take pictures of things that make you grateful as you identify them, and then make one of those pictures your lock screen on your phone. That way, every time you look at your phone, you get a glimpse of something you’re grateful for. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, you can change it as often as you like (I recommend once a week to keep things fresh), and it’s an easy way to take a pause and reflect on what you do have in your life.
6.) Some Recommended Reading and Apps
When it boils down to it, handling stress and isolation comes in many different shapes and sizes. The above tips may be exactly what you need…or maybe none of them quite hit the mark. From my own experience, these resources have helped me in times of stress and depression. I hope one of them can help you as well:
- 10 Minute Mindfulness – 71 Habits for Living in the Present Moment: This book gives you tons of tips for reminding yourself to stay present, from meditation techniques to just appreciating making your bed. There is also an online companion to help you practice these techniques.
- Everyday Joy and Tacos: This is a really cute “journal” that helps you reflect on your own joy, answer some questions about how you approach joy and gives you little assignments to help put joy into practice. It’s much more structured and unique than some of the other self-help books I’ve read.
- How Full Is Your Bucket?: A short read, but a valuable one. They always say you can’t give from an empty cup. This book takes it one step further and assesses how we can fill our own buckets, as well as useful ways to help others fill theirs.
- Stop Breathe Think: I’ve been using this app for a few years now. The app allows you to assess how you feel every day and gives you a suggested meditation based on how you’re feeling.
- Habitica: This app is a really fun way to organize your tasks for the day, month, week, whatever. It is styled as an RPG (role-playing game) where you can level up, gain treasure, fight bosses, etc. It’s a very unique way to stay on track if you’ve got way too much on your plate.
Myranda Whitesides is a Performance Support Specialist for the Interior Business Center, the Department of Interior’s Shared Services Center. She conducts personnel and payroll systems training for over 50 federal agencies, as well as providing training in Diversity and Inclusion for her peers. Myranda also serves as the Education Co-Director for the Mile High Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), coordinating Educational content for Human Resources professionals in the Denver Metro area. Myranda also enjoys singing, camping, and exploring local breweries and restaurants with her husband, Daniel.