A season for rebuilding connections
It has been two years since we celebrated a holiday season without pandemic precautions. This year, many are reconnecting with loved ones and rebuilding familiar traditions.
It may seem strange to approach the holiday season with the same perspective as before the pandemic. As we emerge from the pandemic, we are presented with a unique opportunity to pause, reflect and wonder how we want to move forward, especially in our relationships.
To get some ideas on reconnecting as we emerge from the pandemic, we spoke to Laura Becker-Lewke, Coach and Healthy Living instructor of Time Management for Less Stress and More Joy.
Lewke offers three guiding principles to light the way as we learn to rebuild connections and traditions in a more meaningful way.
Rest: Lewke encourages slowing down, scheduling less, and leaving open space in life to allow for new opportunities, unexpected connections, and more restorative time with ourselves.
Restore: This is a year to be thoughtful about what traditions and connections we want to restore. We can think twice before committing to an event or those “need to do” holiday chores.
Reinvent: For many, this year is not about reemerging as “back to normal,” but rather about continuing to reinvent new ways of connecting. This season offers the opportunity to think creatively about alternatives.
To set healthy boundaries, Lewke encourages us to apply Marie Kondo’s “does this bring you joy?” tagline to our lives, especially when scheduling events and making commitments. She encourages being honest with ourselves, accepting that it is okay to not want to do something or see someone, even when the world reinforces the importance of staying busy. Time is limited and precious. It is smart to be selective about who we spend it with and how we spend our time.
Lewke encourages taking time to consider common interests and values before connecting with others and being intentional about how we spend time together. Unnecessary tasks and routines can take away from the connection itself, and being intentional about how we spend time together can deepen relationships. For example, if no one enjoys cooking, maybe this is the year to order takeout and focus on catching up instead.
Lewke encourages that we radically accept everyone’s point of view, regardless of how different they may be from our own. People will have disparate views around connecting and gathering this holiday season, and it may be impossible to accommodate everyone. What is most important is to be open to people’s varying perspectives, accepting them all as subjectively true. People experience very different realities, and although we may not agree with them all, they are all equally valid.
Lewke reminds us to extend grace and mercy to ourselves when the typical challenges of in-person gatherings and social faux pas ensue. It is important to remember that we are human and to find humor in ourselves and our mistakes as we navigate reemerging on the social scene this year. Recognizing our common humanity, foibles and challenges, can bring the enjoyment of laughter and be incredibly bonding.
Taking time for our own happiness allows us to spread joy in our connections with others. Lewke encourages us to identify the simple pleasures that bring joy to our lives, such as a short walk or a good conversation, and to bring these practices into our lives so we can have more joy to spread.
The connections and obligations associated with the holidays can bring added stress. There are stressors in life that we cannot avoid and those we can. Remember what is in your control and what is not, and try to cut those unnecessary stressors.
As we approach this unique season of life together, it is important to be intentional about cultivating joy, connection, generosity and thoughtfulness in our relationships. In closing, Lewke emphasizes the importance of time spent together, encouraging us to cherish the moments of connection we have this holiday season.
By: Mia Primeau