9 tips for post-pandemic holiday celebrations for the family

THIS holiday season, most have begun to slowly step out from virtual meetings into a relatively normal celebration for the first time after almost three years.

Child and adolescent psychiatrist Gene Beresin, MD, MA, the executive director of The MGH Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds and a full professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, noted that amid the advent of vaccines and other treatments, many have already assumed a sense of normalcy. 

“We are once again dining out, going to sporting events, commuting to work and school, and, yes, planning our upcoming holiday family travel schedules and gatherings,” he stated. “In many ways, the experience of the pandemic along with other national and global concerns have influenced how we may experience the season.”

Echoing Beresin, the Benilde Well-Being Center (BWC) of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde encourages the general public to take time to celebrate learnings and appreciate each other’s differences.

Here are some tips to help families have a brighter holiday celebration:

1. Make the holidays collaborative. This season, assign tasks to share responsibilities. It could be cooking, decorating or shopping. These will generate feelings of contribution and closeness.

2. Don’t forget self-care. Practice self-care. Exercise and diet. Meditate and take breaks. Spend time outside. These are activities that families can do together. It promotes health and well-being and help bring the holiday cheer.

3. Value of spending time with family and friends. Loneliness skyrocketed during the pandemic. Don’t take your close social relationships for granted. Maintain connections. Meet them in person or through digital media. Remember humans are pack animals—we need each other.

4. Remember you are more resilient now. With so much being taken away from us, we found ways of accepting loss. With a new perspective, let us remember the things we endured.

5. Have conversations about the pandemic. Have conversations about our experiences. Talk to family and friends about your challenges. Tell how you coped. Share your learnings.

6. Reflect on how we learned to live with less. The pandemic forced us to sacrifice. No going out for dinner. No shopping. Just getting by with basic meals. Given the serious economic downturn and with the cost of products escalating, we can use these lessons to live within our means.

7. Reflect on the value of social emotional learning. Contemplate with your kids. Discuss what makes experiences important. Development of all skills—academic, social, emotional, or athletic—are not lost, they are simply delayed. We always have a second chance.

8. Engage in conflict resolution. Conflicts invariably developed with much of our family in one place. Holidays are generally time to put negative feelings aside. Post-pandemic holidays may be an excellent time to set things straight. 

9. Immerse yourself in creative arts. Christmas bring the arts into our homes—music, decorations, creative meals. It is time to bring art into communal experiences. Make music together. Share playlists. Create a collage that expresses your feelings.


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