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Rebuilding connections this holiday season

Post-pandemic, we have an opportunity to pause, reflect and think about how we want to move forward, especially in our relationships. To get some tips for reconnecting this holiday season, BeWell spoke to Laura Becker-Lewke, who teaches the Healthy Living course “Time management for less stress and more joy.”

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. As we emerge from the pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to pause, reflect and wonder how we want to move forward, especially in our relationships. 

To get some ideas for reconnecting as we emerge from the pandemic, we spoke to Laura Becker-Lewke, BeWell coach and Healthy Living instructor of the course “Time management for less stress and more joy.”

Rest, restore and reinvent this holiday season

Lewke offers three guiding principles to help you rebuild connections and traditions in a 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 you want to restore. Think twice before committing to an event or “need to do” holiday chores. 
  • Reinvent: For many, this year is not about getting “back to normal,” but rather about continuing to reinvent new ways of connecting. This season offers the opportunity to think creatively about alternatives. 

Set healthy boundaries

To set healthy boundaries, Lewke encourages applying Marie Kondo’s “does this bring you joy?” tagline, especially when scheduling events and making commitments. She encourages being honest with yourself and accepting that it is okay not to 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 how you spend it and who you spend it with. 

Treasure your time together

Lewke encourages taking time to consider common interests and values before connecting with others and being intentional about how you spend your 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.

Accept differences around comfort levels

Lewke urges radically accepting everyone’s point of view, regardless of how different it may be from your 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 you may not agree with them all, they are all equally valid. 

Extend grace (and humor) in connections

Extend grace and mercy to yourself when the challenges of in-person gatherings and social faux pas ensue, Lewke says. It is important to remember that we are human and to find humor in our mistakes as we navigate reemerging on the social scene this year. Recognizing our common humanity, foibles and challenges can be bonding. 

Be joy to spread joy

Taking time for your own happiness allows you to spread joy in your connections with others. Identify the simple pleasures that bring joy to your life, such as a short walk or a good conversation, and bring those practices into your life so you can have more joy to spread.

The connections and obligations associated with the holidays can bring added stress. There are stressors in life that you cannot avoid and those you can. Remember what is in your control and what is not, and try to cut those unnecessary stressors. 

Cherish your connections

As we approach this unique season together, it is important to be intentional about cultivating joy, connection, generosity and thoughtfulness in your relationships, Lewke says, and to cherish the moments of connection we have this holiday season.