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It’s no secret that the Coronavirus has taken away our freedom to safely gather the way we have for all our lives. From large wedding celebrations to spontaneous get-togethers with friends or family that many of us took for granted, being with others is now something of an anomaly.

As we approach the holiday season, it seems that the virus will inevitably snatch up the holiday joy as well. For many, it will take traditions, family gatherings, and many special moments with those near and far. 

Although it is important to  acknowledge the feelings of loss that we are all experiencing this year, it is also necessary to take time to reflect on the positives and what this whole season is really about. No matter what religion, background, or beliefs you might have – this season is all about gratitude and thankfulness. 

Even before Covid, there are many who feel a heightened sense of isolation during the holiday season. Here are some ways we can spread (socially-distanced) joy and connection during holidays. 

While these ideas aren’t exactly what most of us would prefer to do for the holidays (with the exception of those who are not fans of holiday gathers) but let’s take a step back, and once again lean into gratitude. Can you imagine a pandemic without Zoom, pictures, videos or facetime? Putting things into perspective and being grateful for what we do have will get us through these unprecedented times.

Although the CDC guidelines outline that having a socially distanced group of 10 for the holidays is acceptable, some may be at high risk or live with someone high risk and not able to attend. And sometimes saying no can be very stressful and cause waves in families.

That being said, if you don’t feel comfortable going to small family gatherings, do not feel like you are obligated to go just because of its family or tradition. Practicing this form of wellness for yourself and those around you is critically important and those who truly care about you will be thankful you are taking time away to keep you and loved ones safe. 

Another important part of finding gratitude this holiday season is to maintain perspective and to do your part in serving others. Do you have a roof over your head? Food on the table? A Netflix account? People around you who you love and who love you? For some the answer is no. But for those of us who do have our basic needs met, make sure to take time to acknowledge your blessings and think about what you can do to serve someone or a group of people who may not have these luxuries. 

No, really though. For example, what if instead of just being told to stay home and binge your favorite Netflix show, we were called to war, or to relocate homes, or flee the country. Be thankful that what we are being asked to do is just stay inside. There have been different points of history or different parts of the world that have been asked to do much harder things. 

So while you are sitting at the socially-distanced dinner table, or on a family zoom call this season, while acknowledging the loss of hugging grandparents, parents, or cousins, reflect on your blessings and shine a positive light on yourself and those you were are with either in person or via zoom. Coronavirus has taught us many things, one of the most important being that  gathering with family and friends is not to be taken for granted. 

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