The importance of celebrating during a pandemic

Ashwini K.R, Manisha Ninan & Tanusree DurairajAshwini K.R, Manisha Ninan & Tanusree Durairaj – The Counseling Team, Canadian International School, Bangalore

The holiday season of 2020 is upon us. In the usual scenario this would mean travel plans for a change of scene, visiting relatives and friends, or simply celebrating the festival that has mandated the holiday. One of the first things to get affected by the pandemic was the way we celebrate. Celebrations keep us happy and help us bond with those we share the positive experience with. With us having to stay away from each other, and promises or hopes that next year we’ll have a bigger party, it can be essential that we go back to the roots of recognising achievements and why we need to have a ball so that we can still reap the benefits during this trying time.

Celebrations, be it big or small, give us something to look forward to, lift our spirits up and help us recognize the good things in life. According to Fred Bryant, a social psychologist and researcher; when we stop to savour the good stuff, we buffer ourselves against the bad and build resilience. We may not be able to celebrate the way we used to, but sharing small moments with family and friends even when we cannot be together, can teach children to celebrate simple pleasures and to build skills to handle the ups and downs of life. For example, celebrating a friendship, making the most of a weekend, indulging in a new hobby or recognizing the completion of a chore can be uplifting.  Reminding ourselves of our abilities, skills, and the efforts taken to get where we are helps us stay motivated to reach our current goals. 

Setting expectations and following through: Planning ahead with the family when to celebrate and how to celebrate after accomplishing a specific goal makes for good quality time. Not all celebrations need to be a grand affair. Taking time to write a note commending performance and appreciating family achievements, taking a celebratory picture, ordering in or preparing a special meal, or making something sentimental can be ways to recognize each other. Zoom-parties can include a photo scavenger hunt where individuals can be given a small list of things to take pictures of within the vicinity of their homes. Supporting a charity either monetarily or otherwise can be another way to spread good will and feel a sense of purpose. As important as planning for the celebration is, holding up our promise and ensuring that we follow through with our plans are equally essential. Following through with plans can itself give us a sense of accomplishment.

Looking past the impossible: When planning a celebration, there are usually two main hurdles to cross; expenses and time. However, when we pull away the fanciness of celebrations, we can see the many inexpensive ways to celebrate and acknowledge others and ourselves. The bigger hurdle can be time. “We don’t have time,” can be a common excuse. In the long run, spending even a few minutes to celebrate as a family can do wonders for stress management and handling work. An appreciated person can work better, especially when the appreciation comes from those closest to you, that is, family.

Creating a culture of joy and gratitude: Expressing gratitude and joy at home can transform the atmosphere into a positive one. Appreciation can make one feel valued, especially during complex, unpredictable and exhausting times when energies can be low. Sometimes it takes effort to choose joy or being grateful over worry, but doing so can help us thrive during the difficult times rather than just surviving them.

While many of us may be facing new challenges this year in different ways, it can feel difficult to entertain the thought of celebrations. It may then be important to remind ourselves of the purpose of taking time to acknowledge the efforts we have been making on a daily basis by allowing ourselves to celebrate those aspects that add meaning to our lives and turn this opportunity into joy.

Even allowing time for rest and relaxation from the daily routine can be a well-earned celebration. Since leaving our home is not an encouraged option this year, maybe taking time to celebrate the upcoming festival, or existing friendships, or even how we have made it this far can be made as an occasion to look forward to.

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