This season, cultivate gratitude and generosity

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We’ve begun the march toward the December holidays, celebrations where families have time-honored and much-loved traditions. But this year will be different, both in small and big ways. For the last year we’ve been managing changes in our daily routines. We’ve had to adjust to new ways of working, learning, and staying connected to the people we care about. It’s been stressful, scary, and at times, exhausting.

The idea of missing out on treasured opportunities to connect in person with our loved ones is sad and disappointing. This is on top of the additional stress and anxiety many are feeling during this uncertain time. It’s especially hard for adults who are alone and unable to be with their friends or families. And the holidays can be painful for those of us who have lost their jobs and have financial worry.

Most families are already coping with more “together time” than ever. The result is periodic frayed nerves, even before the added strain from changing how we celebrate the holidays. And others are struggling with painful isolation and loneliness.

These are hard times. It’s natural to feel a sense of disappointment, sadness, and frustration.

But here we are, in the middle of a once-in-a-hundred-year global pandemic. The entire world is in the same boat. It’s an opportunity for us to pivot, adapt, and be flexible — all components of resilience.

Here are some tips on taking care of yourself during the 2020 holiday season:

Be realistic. Keep your expectations in line with reality. Accept that this holiday season will be different than years past.

Set reasonable goals that fit your schedule and budget. Make healthy spending decisions and prioritize financially reasonable ways to celebrate.

Put your health first. Avoid overindulging in food and alcohol. Maintain your regular healthy eating, exercising, and sleep habits. Make time for yourself to rest and recharge. Enjoy a hot bath with candles and lavender. Take a walk in nature, rain or shine. Stretch, take an online yoga class, or go for a run. Listen to beautiful music.

Connect. Reach out to friends and family, organize a family Zoom gathering, have a virtual holiday meal, include friends in your virtual get-together that you know may be alone, especially older adults who may be isolated.

Be festive and creative. Decorate your home — inside and out. Pull out that old recipe you have been wanting to make but never got around to!

Cultivate gratitude and generosity. Contact your favorite charity or local place of worship to see how you can become involved at a distance. Giving of your time and talents is always appreciated by nonprofits and religious groups. Now, the need is greater than ever.

Reach out if you need help. If you are struggling with feeling sad, depressed, or anxious during this holiday season, you may need more help. Call Colorado Crisis Services at 844-493-8255.

Dr. Kimberly Winter is a family practice physician with New West Physicians in Highlands Ranch

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