For many the holiday season is a joyful time, for others it can be a time of loneliness or stress. Most of us experience a combination of these feelings depending upon the circumstances. In some years things seem to go very well, some years are just mediocre, and in some years it feels like we will barely survive the madness.
What if we could reclaim the holidays as an occasion for general enjoyment and peace rather than striving for some picture perfect experience? We think it is possible, at least in small moments or doses.
Here are a few ways to make the season a bit brighter:
If you experience the holidays as a lonely time:
Find ways to connect with others. Take a risk and reach out to friends and family; you may be surprised at the invitations you receive. Be bold: offer to host a gathering or take someone out for coffee or dinner. Remember, you are unlikely to be the only one who’s feeling lonely.
Design a new holiday tradition such as volunteering at food bank and/or giving a stressed friend or family member the gift of your time by offering to babysit, run errands or provide help with a task (perhaps even one that’s holiday themed, like preparing a traditional food or decorating). It’s much harder to feel lonely when you are busy helping others.
If you experience holidays as a stressful time:
Don’t put yourself last! Resist the pressure to give to the point of financial, physical or emotional “bankruptcy.” Ensure that you have some time and energy to focus on your own needs and wants. Doing so will be a gift to all, as you will be much happier and relaxed for not having exhausted all of your resources.
It’s OK to decline some invitations or to decide that you won’t do something you would typically do. The world will not come to end if a party goes on without you or you resolve not to take charge of the cooking this year. If you hear grumbles about the changes, try to put them in perspective. Strive to see this new approach as an opportunity for you (and others) to share responsibilities and develop new skills, including the vital skill of saying “no.”
Make moments of tranquility part of your daily routine. Find simple and inventive ways to take a break and de-stress such as:
- Spend 5 or 10 minutes here and there doing nothing but relaxing.
- Take short walks.
- Read a blog or magazine article.
- Call a friend who makes you laugh.
- Play some music to soothe you as you are rushing around from place to place or completing necessary tasks.
- Lock yourself in the bathroom if you have to; people will typically leave you alone in there.
Most importantly, decide for yourself what the holidays are about. Sometimes we mourn what we think we are supposed to be feeling or experiencing when these notions may actually come from family, friends or marketers. Create your own vision of what’s important and what constitutes a good time. Determine what matters to you and then use your time to do that instead of what you think you should be doing.
Self-Discovery Tool Number 71
Make the season bright no matter your circumstances. Take the initiative both to reach out to others and to engage in self-care. Take the opportunity to do and see things in new ways. Doing so the fosters the wellbeing of all – and what could be more holiday-season appropriate than that?! Happy Holidays 2014!