The holidays can be overwhelming. Additional challenges associated with this time of year can compound the stressors associated with everyday life. Extraordinary challenges related to the holidays include increased financial burden, the pressure to find the perfect gift, more social expectations and commitments, cleaning, baking, shopping, dysfunctional families, non-existent families, geographical distance from families, missing the presence of a deceased or absent loved one, reflections on a really difficult year, isolation, sensory overload, insensitivities, exhaustion, arguments and discord. And for some, the holidays are painful, lonely, dreaded, reminders of loss. Reading this list is exhausting. The reality of what we experience often doesn’t align with what we are told we should expect. Holidays we are told, are supposed to be joyous, harmonious, fun times with friends and families. Everyone else, it seems is full of holiday cheer.
10 ideas to make the most of the holidays.
1. Try not to be preoccupied with what the holidays are supposed to be like and how you are supposed to feel. Don’t compare your experience with some ideal-it will always come up short. Adjust your expectations of yourself, others and events. Set aside differences and grievances, and try to accept family and friends as they are. Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like a past holiday. As families change, so can traditions. Find new ways to celebrate.
2. Do something to celebrate and remember loved ones who aren’t around anymore.
3. Acknowledge your feelings. Accept them. Honour them. Let them go. Try not to worry about issues beyond your control.
4. Create me time. Give yourself a break. Be gentle to yourself. Avoid dwelling on your flaws and mistakes. Do something for you-something you enjoy. Maybe get yourself a present and, or a nice meal.
5. Try something different. Volunteer to serve a holiday meal, spend the day at a movie theatre, go to a restaurant, or skip gifts and donate instead.
6. Join a community like a church, team or meet-up.
7. Don’t abandon healthy habits. Remember to sleep, exercise and make healthy food choices. Avoid alcohol or substance misuse. Overindulgence adds to stress and guilt.
8. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful.
9. Reach out. Lean on your support system. Keep in touch to keep yourself grounded.
10. Take a moment to feel and express gratitude.
“When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.” Stephen Hawking
May peace be your gift during the holidays and your blessing all year through!