The year 2020 was filled with challenges, but challenges bring opportunity. As the year wraps up with the holidays, it is easy to become overwhelmed with feelings of loneliness, sadness, and possibly even anger that your usual routines and traditions have been pared down or canceled. Even though your holiday celebrations may look different from the past, they don’t have to be different in a negative way.

In this episode of ON Purpose, Jay Shetty shares seven ways that you can make the holidays extra special, whether you are close to family or far from the ones you love. These simple tips can help you spark joy, renew your energy, and connect you with family and friends.

Make a Digital Memories

Making photo galleries and sharing them with friends is Jay Shetty’s favorite thing to do during the holidays. Whether you choose a digital photo album or a video slideshow, there are loads of apps out there that make it easy to do. Simply upload images or videos, then email or send a link to your loved ones. Seeing pictures of loved ones helps lift the receiver’s spirit, and they are an excellent keepsake for the future.

Want to share your memories live? Jay Shetty encourages listeners to add some holiday joy to live video calls by sharing past holiday memories on Zoom calls. Sharing holiday memories is something we often don't stop to do, and this activity can spark storytelling about funny memories or touching moments together.

Send out a video of your favorite holiday memories or moments and ask your group what one of their favorite holiday memories is. When you share your digital photo or video gallery, it's like you're breathing extra life and vitality into your circle of family and friends. It reminds everyone of the treasured experiences that have enriched their lives.

Physical proximity is wonderful, but being able to be in the same room as the ones you love isn't everything. Interaction through media platforms goes a long way in the hearts of family and friends who cannot physically be together. Jay Shetty says that when you reflect on these times, you step into a vulnerable space of sharing and connecting, and showing people they matter to you. 

If There is Conflict, Find a Resolution in a Private Manner

Holiday stress seems unavoidable, and misunderstandings and miscommunications due to distance and separation can cause tension and conflict. When differing opinions are present, as they often are, relationships can become strained, even within family and friends. Disagreements and hurt feelings can lead to uncomfortable gatherings.

It’s important to keep the conflict private, Jay Shetty says. If you need to have a conversation with someone about a conflict or an incident, do not do it in front of everyone. Whether you are getting together with family or having a group conversation via a media platform, if there is conflict within the group, find a way to discuss it privately. 

“There are a couple of reasons you want to have a private conversation,” explains Jay Shetty. “One of which is that it can make other people feel uncomfortable or feel like they're supposed to take sides. That does not help the situation, and it could escalate it. The biggest reason is that when we're put on the spot in front of a group, we're far more likely to get defensive.”

Have you ever been called out in front of others? You know how it makes you feel. When you feel attacked, the first instinct is to shut down the conversation and defend yourself. 

“Leadership coach Rosalie Puiman, who specializes in what she calls ‘courageous communication,’ wrote in the Huffington Post that when we have difficult conversations, it's important to ‘cut out all distractions so we can be fully present,’” Jay Shetty shares. “It's hard to do that in front of a group. It's tough to stay calm and give the conversation our full attention when others who aren't involved are present. This makes it less likely that you'll arrive at a conclusion or resolution you're looking for.”

When you need to have a serious talk with someone, do not do it in a group setting. Find time to talk privately about the issues and resolve them before your next time together.

Gratitude Circle

What is a gratitude circle?

A gratitude circle is a popular exercise you can do with another person or a group, whether family, friends, coworkers, etc. Make your circle about more than just sharing something you are grateful for. Expand it and go deeper.

“In this gratitude circle, you're going to share a high and low point of this year,” Jay Shetty explains. “Those may be different things, or they may be related, like a problem and how you met it or solved it.”

This year presented new challenges for many of us. Working from home and homeschooling your kids may have been your greatest challenge and your greatest success rolled into one. Or maybe you lost your job but met the love of your life.

“By sharing our lows and not just our highs, we're normalizing struggle,” Jay Shetty explains. “In a world where we all feel so much pressure to do everything right and  make it look easy while we're doing it, it's super important to acknowledge when things are hard.”

Keep Traditions Alive

Not getting together with friends and family doesn’t mean you can’t keep traditions alive. Maybe you are missing out on your favorite religious service or your best friend’s fudge. Perhaps the Christmas caroling in your town was canceled. But if you love to carol, you can still do it on your own! 

Thinking outside the box on how to tweak a tradition to keep it alive can be fun, encourages Jay Shetty. Throughout this pandemic, there are so many examples of how people have made the best of things. Musicians held concerts online or on their lawns. Families made traditional Thanksgiving dishes and then participated in a Zoom call to eat with family. 

Do the things that you usually do during the holidays, even if it means you have to do it on your own. Decorate a tree, watch a favorite movie, or send cards to friends and family. Whatever you do, do something that brings you joy.

“It's okay to find ways to celebrate even amid struggle,” Jay Shetty explains. “I think it's actually the most important time to find ways to celebrate.”

Practice Self-Care

The hustle and bustle of the holidays often takes a toll on your mental and physical well being. You indulge in too many holiday goodies at all the parties and get-togethers you attend. You have to figure out the perfect gifts for all your friends and family and spend time shopping for all of them. You make travel arrangements. 

The demands of the end of year deadlines at work weigh on your mind. There is never enough time for yourself. It feels like a marathon to get through the end of the year because of the expectations and demands on your time. 

Then 2020 happened.

“Most of us are off the hook this year for at least one or two activities, maybe more, some of which we don't love in the first place,” Jay Shetty says. “I suggest that you use at least some of that found time for self-care. Get some rest, take that long, luxurious bath or that long run you've been daydreaming about, come up with that movie idea. Play those extra few sets of tennis. Give a gift to yourself and do something you don't normally have the time or energy to do. Make self-care a new holiday tradition.”

Make New Traditions

Traditions do not have to be fancy or look a certain way. Now is a great time to start some new traditions with family, friends or yourself. Traditions can be serious, fun, or silly. 

Find a charity you want to donate to. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Go sledding or skiing. Have a movie night under the stars. Perhaps there is a unique restaurant that you love or a favorite place to visit. Whatever it is, Jay Shetty recommends finding something that evokes emotion for you and adding it into the things you do during the holidays. 

Test Drive Your New Year’s Resolution

When the ball drops to usher in a new year, resolutions are made by the millions. Intentions are good and eagerness abounds to achieve the goals we set for the year ahead. 

It’s full steam ahead for a few months, but often things fizzle out sooner than later. Not because the intention wasn’t good, explains Jay Shetty, but because we bite off more than we can chew and maintaining that resolution becomes too much to continue. 

“Just under half of Boomers plan to make a resolution,” Jay Shetty shares. “A whopping 86.9% of millennials surveyed plan to make at least one resolution. More than half said that they focus on one or more money-related goals, while Boomers and Gen Xers were more likely to focus on fitness and self-improvement.”

But a change in the calendar doesn’t mean that things automatically improve with a new year. 

“Nothing's going to change until we focus on the growth we need to make,” Jay Shetty says. “So why wait for 2020 to end? You have the power to start the change right now. It will also help you end 2020 on a high note.”

One resolution that Shetty believes is powerful and worthwhile for everyone is to serve. Support a charity or someone in need. Ask what you can do to serve your friends and family. If you live a life in service of others, it will bless you as much as it blesses them.

You can make the most of the holiday season by trying new things and shaking up the old. Pick a couple of these simple tips outlined above and put into motion a memorable holiday season.

More From Jay Shetty

Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “7 Ways to Make the Holidays Special from a Distance or Close By” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.

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