The Easter long weekend often provides us with a wonderful opportunity to take some time out and to spend some quality time with our family and friends. We’re often thinking about what we’re going to cook, which family we’re going to spend the day with, how many Easter eggs we’re going to buy our loved ones or indulge in ourselves, as well as where we’re going for our annual getaway.

This year however, due to the novel Coronavirus, Government restrictions are in place to help slow and stop the spread of COVID-19, and as a result, many families will experience the Easter celebration in a very different way.

This Easter, there will no weekends away, no extended family gatherings, empty seats at the dinner table and no gatherings in church for the Easter services…

So how can we celebrate Easter in a meaningful way when there’s a global pandemic?

1. Acknowledge the loss

This Easter is going to be a difficult one for many. It will feel different and for many of us, we will feel sad, and that’s okay.

We will experience a range of emotions, for some it will be the loss of not attending church service; for others, not celebrating Easter Sunday with all their loved ones, including their grandparents, or not being able to visit them in their nursing home will be challenging.

It will include not being able to head out for the annual fishing trip or weekend away; not being able to enjoy the additional days off by going to the movies or visiting our favourite café, restaurant or bar, and/or just not being able to catch up with our friends when we want to catch up with them – this will be upsetting.

It is important to acknowledge however, that this experience of grief and loss and feeling lonely is a normal one.

It’s also important to reflect on the current crisis, and how such strict measures are protecting our loved ones and the most vulnerable in our community, and that most importantly, this too will pass…

2. Adjust your expectations and keep it simple

Changing your expectations of what Easter ‘should’ look like for you and your family is an important step. New and memorable traditions with your immediate family can be created.

Celebrate as best you can under the circumstances. Some ideas include:

  • using this different experience as an opportunity to cook with your family – it doesn’t have to be something fancy, but you could learn how to make some hot cross buns or a berry pavlova, or create a dish that you normally wouldn’t cook; this can help create a new positive experience and memory with your family
  • attend a virtual church service, and/or share the story of Easter with your children, so the meaning of Easter remains
  • plan the traditional Easter egg hunt with your children
  • phone your loved ones, put them on speaker phone, and/or link up with them virtually online, and have a dance or karaoke party
  • do some craft with your family, such as painting some eggs or creating some Easter bunny paper plates
  • play some football in the backyard or play a board game together

3. Practice mindfulness

Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings over the long weekend. Give your full attention to the present moment and do so, without judgement. This current experience is a unique one, and at this time, you and your family are safe and well.

When we’re practicing mindfulness, we’re not thinking about the past or worrying about the future; we are paying attention only to the present moment.

Over this Easter weekend, try and fully immerse yourself in what you’re doing. If you’re chatting with a loved one over the phone – be mindful and give them your full attention; listen intently, without cleaning the house/cooking dinner or checking your Facebook status!

If you’re eating a chocolate Easter egg – take a moment and savour the taste and the texture. Enjoy every mouthful without scoffing it down and without wondering what you’re going to eat next.

If you’re playing footy or cricket, or basketball with your kids – focus on that particular moment. What can you hear? Your children’s laughter? What can you feel? Your increasing heart rate because you’re trying to run or catch the ball? Focus on the moment and it will be a much more enjoyable experience for you and your children.

Like developing any skill, practicing mindfulness takes some practice. Be patient with yourself and if you can, try and practice a little mindfulness every day. You’ll be surprised how much more you’ll be able to enjoy life and those little pleasures that are part of our lives every day.

4. Practice gratitude

Did you know that practicing gratitude plays an important role in improving our health and wellbeing?

Individuals who can look for the good in a situation and can focus on the aspects that are going well in their life, can reduce their stress, anxiety and depression, and can overall improve their quality of life and level of life satisfaction (Seligman, Steen, Park & Peterson, 2005).

People who choose to be grateful, experience fewer health problems, experience better sleep and all this in turn, builds resilience.

When life is good, we may forget to be thankful, but it also doesn’t mean when life is not so good, that we deny our experience. Instead,  we acknowledge what we’re going through and reflect on what we can learn from the experience and what we could do better next time.

When we’re in the midst of a universal crisis, this is the best time to develop a new perspective, a grateful one, as it can help us cope during this difficult time. It can also help to energise, heal and provide us with hope that life will once again get better (Emmons, 2013).

So focus on what you’re grateful for over this long Easter weekend – write down three positive things and if you’re feeling really stressed and are missing your loved ones, write down a few more…

5. Focus on the meaning of Easter

On a final note, focus on the meaning of Easter. Easter is not about Easter eggs and hot cross buns, and how much we can eat and drink in one day. Easter signals the end of Lent and is a symbol of Great Love; it provides us with an opportunity to reflect and give thanks for the blessings in our life.

So this Easter weekend, treasure the time you have with your family by spending some quality time with them. Enjoy the festivities that are important to you, and cherish the moments and memories you’re creating with your immediate family.

Even in this unique situation, during a pandemic, Easter this year, can be a meaningful one…

Happy Easter to You All!

We would like to wish you and your families a very Happy Easter filled with peace and happiness.

On this Easter weekend, stay home; stay safe and healthy, and enjoy celebrating this special time with your family.

Until next time, wishing you all great health and wellbeing.

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