|It’s wonderful to get wrapped up in the magic of this season, which brings us excitement, joy and perhaps most appreciably this year—hope. But intellectually, we’ve long known that the holidays are far from “the most wonderful time of the year.” And this year, which has been out-of-control for all of us, the holidays may be wildly challenging for many.
After all, in 2020 we’ve already had to cope with feelings of loneliness, fear, anger and confusion due to the pandemic. It’s diminished our sense of wellbeing and happiness. Now we can’t celebrate in person with family and friends; our emotional reserves are stretched thin; and the news is still concerning. Science says things may get worse before they get better, even though a solution is in sight. So comfort and joy are harder to find at the moment, which makes them all the more valuable.
Like many of you, I’ve had a rough year too. But I’m surprised to find that it’s made me stronger and more positive about the future than ever before. I lost my remarkable mother, Arlene, in April; had hip surgery in October; and wrestled with, and recovered from, COVID-19 in November. Ultimately, these challenges have been transformative by helping me focus on hope, embrace the benefits of solitude, learn new ways of giving and find a renewed sense of inner tranquility.
As a wellness advocate and consultant, the ordeals of this year have helped me devise strategies to get through these tests. Appreciation is one, and personally I’m more grateful than ever for my family and friends. But finding balance between solitude and companionship has been effective as well. I have renewed respect for solitude and the benefits it yields, and the companionship that comes from being present and caring in every interaction we have.
Given these thoughts, I want to thank all of you who have been present in my life. May you find excitement, joy, peace and love in the coming year. And to help you do so, see my strategies below for handling immediate holiday stress, longstanding crisis fatigue, balancing companionship and solitude and building a more connected world.
As poet Leonard Cohen advised in “Anthem,” we must forget perfect offerings and “ring the bells that still can ring.” Only this way can we let the light in, renew ourselves and create a world where everyone belongs.
Here’s to hope, healing and some hearty bell-ringing in the new year!