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The holidays are in full swing at East Ridge at Cutler Bay and there is much to do – cards to mail, gifts to buy and connecting with friends and relatives. But before you add another item to your growing to-do list, be sure to add some downtime and self-care.

Here are a few tips for a stress-free holiday season:

  1. Stay Active

It’s easy to become caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and neglect our health and wellness. However, staying active is a great way to jumpstart fitness goals for 2021! Exercise produces endorphins which can improve one’s ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress levels.

At East Ridge, a Life Plan Community, Fitness & Wellness Coordinator Melissa Barrett creates personal fitness plans for every resident geared to their goals and interests. Each week there are eight different instructor-led classes offered from yoga and tai chi to strength training, balance and flexibility, as well as self-administered fitness opportunities with equipment geared to older adults. The meandering walkways throughout the community are enticing for daily walks with the walking club. All contribute to alleviating stress and leaving people invigorated.

  1. Volunteer

Research shows that giving of one’s time is tied to lowered blood pressure, reduced stress and increased life expectancy. At East Ridge, there are many opportunities to volunteer, and residents enjoy a sense of purpose helping others.

A December opportunity for volunteering is for the community’s annual Holiday Bazaar on the 5th from 9 a.m. to noon. Due to the pandemic and safety precautions, this year’s event is only for residents and associates.

Organized by Fran Plummer, the socially distanced Bazaar offers plenty of merchandise for holiday gift giving. According to Plummer, Bazaar is a great shopping alternative when residents are unable to head to local malls. The community’s crafters, talented residents who have been creating merchandise to sell throughout the year, will be on hand selling handmade holiday items and gifts such as wreaths, ornaments, knitted items, jewelry and more. Also, the Bazaar takes volunteers from the community’s thrift store and Garden Center to sell their merchandise.

Homemade brownies, banana bread, truffles, cakes, pies and jellies and jams will be sold by volunteer resident-bakers. “We’ll also have raffles with gift certificates to local stores and handmade quilts,” added Plummer. One of the most unique items is a live Hawaiian wreath.

Proceeds from the event are used to fund community projects.

  1. Show Gratitude

In addition to volunteering, the holidays are the season of giving back and saying thank you. At East Ridge, the annual Christmas Fund is an opportunity for residents to contribute to bonuses awarded to the community’s hourly employees.

Chaired by resident Barbara Pickle, collections for the holiday gift fund started in October and ended on November 30th. Since tipping employees is prohibited throughout the year, donating to the gift fund is a way residents can say thank you.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to do this especially this year,” said Pickle. “Our associates are always here for us, but their dedication has been so remarkable this year. My neighbors and I have a good feeling knowing we are making someone else’s Christmas special.”

  1. Indulge Without Overconsuming

Go ahead and sample the decadent eggnog cheesecake bars or the chocolate cream pie. Research finds the ingredients found in many desserts contain high levels of endorphins that can make us feel good almost immediately.

The key is to eat in moderation. Try eating smaller portions and you’ll be able to savor the taste and flavor of the holidays without the feelings of guilt. The East Ridge culinary team is known for masterfully creating healthier holiday dessert alternatives without sacrificing flavor or taste.

  1. Don’t Take on More Than You Can Handle

The holidays may seem overwhelming and challenging especially during the pandemic. It’s not as easy to shop for gifts or attend holiday parties. It’s okay to accept this year the holidays may be different. Remember to be kind to yourself. Listen to your body and don’t neglect self-care. It’s also perfectly okay to decline an invitation and not uphold a family tradition if it creates stress.

For residents at East Ridge, the maintenance-free lifestyle enables them to spend each day as they wish and devote time to themselves. Without the hassles of day-to-day responsibilities such as cooking or even decorating for the holidays, residents find they now have more time to truly soak-in the spirit of the holidays.

  1. Have Fun

At East Ridge, the December calendar of activities is filled with programs to put everyone in a festive mood. The community is adorned with festive lights for both Christmas and Hanukkah that are enjoyed nightly at sunset.

While events must take into account social distancing, there are still virtual celebrations for those both inside and outside the community throughout the month.

To help residents connect with their loved ones, especially during the holidays, East Ridge provides how-to classes using Zoom taught by Rickard Erschik. On December 17th, he’ll offer the last class for 2020.

While it will be different this year, a socially distanced New Year’s party will close out 2020 and welcome 2021.

If you would like to learn more about East Ridge and these upcoming events or to schedule a tour, please call 305-256-3564 or visit

About East Ridge at Cutler Bay

East Ridge at Cutler Bay is Miami-Dade County’s only true Life Plan Community. The nonprofit community draws from the neighborhood charm of suburban Cutler Bay and the vibrancy of Miami in a lush tropical setting of 76 acres, located at 19301 SW 87th Avenue. The community offers a continuum of care including independent living, assisted living and memory support residences in a neighborhood setting; respite care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation services are available within Three Palms Health Center.