It is well known that with the coming of the holiday season, our personal stress grows and for many, it is not “the most wonderful time of the year”.
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There are several reasons why this is the case. We often put a lot of stress on ourselves, because the expectation is that the holiday season is a happy time.
Well, for many that is just not the case. And for some, they set expectations on being happy and having things go a certain way, but then when it doesn’t (remember, we can’t predict tomorrow), we spend the rest of the holiday season sad, anxious, and sometimes even depressed.
There are many ways that we can work to set ourselves up to have a chance at a happier holiday and avoid these pitfalls that make the holiday harder than it has to be.
Here are just five ideas you can integrate into your holiday habits to help set yourself up for a happier time this season.
1. Keep Normalcy As Your Priority
Many of us change our routine during the season. Maybe that means we are eating more, exercising less, and spending more money than we planned. STOP. Just because there is more food out doesn’t mean you have to eat it.
Yes, this requires discipline and self-control. But remember the years of regret when you changed that routine, overate and felt sick or spent months paying off the high credit cards. We found an idea in my family for the issue of presents.
A physical present to a loved one might be good for a moment. But ask the person what you gave them a few years back and they probably don’t remember.
So, instead give the present of a positive memory. Go do something together, like hike a beautiful mountain, go to a fun place or be a tourist in your own town.
The time you spend together is much more valuable than anything you spend on a gift.
2. Do Not Discuss Divisive Issues
Yes, this might be your family you are spending time with, but it doesn’t mean you agree with each other.
We live in some of the most divisive times in a long time.
Avoid talking politics, religion, your children’s accomplishments if you know that others are not so lucky, and money troubles.
The holidays bring us together but are also known to tear us apart.
Conversations that lead to arguments and disagreement leave a lot of hurt feelings and are not worth your time or opinion.
Your chance of changing other people’s minds is near zero, so what is the worth. Be a peacekeeper instead and don’t participate or get pulled into these conversations.
3. Give Yourself A Present
Don’t forget that you deserve a holiday present as well and that the person to give it to you is YOU.
Give yourself the present of mindfulness and peace. Take time to go on a walk by yourself, meditate, get a massage, exercise and just be with you.
We are surrounded by loud noises and busy lives this time of the year, so allowing yourself some peace is critical to stay calm and out of stress.
Don’t feel guilty, just think of it as your present to yourself.
4. Be The Bigger Person
Instead of expecting and wanting things, be the person who wants to give things. Although you might not think so, giving is much more rewarding to the brain than receiving. But giving again doesn’t have to be physical. Give the gift of compliments.
Give each person you greet around the holidays a compliment. You might find that it will be returned to you in spades.
Do a “pay it forward” action, like paying for the person behind you at a drive-through or store.
Imagine the gift you are giving to them. Then imagine that they do that for others. You will certainly feel happy after that.
5. Remember Those That Are Not So Lucky
The truth to all of us is that there are others in our surrounding areas that are not as fortunate as us in life.
We tend to forget this and only see our lives as what we must deal with. There are people that don’t have families to go to.
Some, few friends that already have plans. It is just the truth of life. Some people really struggle around the holidays as they watch others see family and go to parties.
Do you know anyone who needs a place to spend the holidays? Invite them to yours. Bring in and include those you know that need a place to go.
There is no better good deed around the holidays to help those less fortunate than you. Keep your eyes and ears open and outward.
I bet there is one person you could invite to spend time with you.
Yes, you can continue to either dread or look forward to the holiday time. But how you handle it is up to you. We all hear the word “peace” around this time.
Find your own peace by not falling into many of the holiday traps that will just leave you stressed, anxious, and sometimes sad.
It’s not that this is a bad time of the year, but only that many of us build up expectations.
We can’t predict the future, so just find ways and use the suggestions above to give yourself a chance to have a happier and more memorable holiday season.
Whatever you celebrate, I hope it is a happy year for you.