No matter how “glass half full” in life you are, the holidays can present stressors to test your emotions. Family members with unrealistic expectations, financial concerns, and schedule conflicts can make even the cheeriest person want to put on blinders and pass through the season without celebration.
Instead of dreading the season, hit your refresh button for a new approach. Take these coming months to be thankful and to acknowledge what is meaningful. Here are some ways to remain positive by celebrating life, wellness and the opportunities that will be ahead in the new year:
- Forgive — If we learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantines, it’s that we should value the relationships in our lives. Yes, even those family members that test our last nerves. We should try to set aside differences during the holidays. Folks in a not-so-happy mood may also be dreading the season. Have a casual discussion with someone you normally find difficult to approach. They may need a friend or listening ear as much as you.
- Forget about perfection — Don’t sweat trying to repeat how you celebrated the previous year or with trying to make this year the best yet. Most people simply want is to spend quality time with family. This can be accomplished in so many creative and low-cost ways. If it’s still not safe to connect in person, join everyone via a shared video platform for some beverages, story sharing, game playing, or caroling. If you can gather in person, change it up with a barbeque instead of a formal sit-down meal, a hike outside together instead of individual isolation on electronic devices, or a group volunteer activity. Simply be together — virtually or in person.
- Budget outside of the box — The pressure of buying and shopping for gifts creates much anxiety. A good thing to remember is that the person you are buying a gift for probably does not want you to go out of your way, feel frustrated, or go broke in the process of getting that gift. Sincerely, these days, the best gift you can give friends and family is your good health and happiness. So, budget with creativity in mind. Work with ideas first. If you had ten family members in need of a gift, you could print a digital photo and place in ten frames. You could also write a poem and frame it, cook an inexpensive meal, host a potluck party, or hold a gift swap where all gifts must be handmade from upcycled goods. Be creative! Is there a bike in your garage that could be repainted and given anew to a niece, or nephew? Is there a jean jacket that is destined to become someone else’s treasure with some crafting? Let your ingenuity release any tension over gift giving. Make the process enjoyable and check out resources such as YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest for ideas.
‘Tis the Season
One of the best ways to feel emotionally well during the holidays is by doing good for others. You can do this on your own, or get friends and family involved. We’re often disconnected from meaningful human interaction due to our reliance on electronic/non-verbal communication. Reaching out to touch someone’s heart will most certainly touch your own:
- Touch base with Hospitalized, Nursing Home or Hospice Care Patients — Seeing how strong and optimistic a terminal patient can be during the holidays will remind you of your good fortune. While you brighten their day and inspire hope, you gain perspective. We often take for granted our good health and all that we can/should be doing because we are so lucky.
- Be That Nice Person — Have you ever been having, “one of those days,” but then encountered a person that smiled, or said something that turned your day around? Try to be that person. Acknowledging others with a sincere smile and a genuine, “Hello, how are you?” is that little something we can all do to make the world a better place. Don’t have any expectations for a response. Just put it out there.
- Engage in Community Compassion — Help to make where you live a place that you and others can enjoy. When you take a walk, pick up any stray garbage like paper, or a plastic bottle, and place it in the garbage. If you excelled at a subject in school, give back by tutoring some neighborhood kids. Make extras when you cook a meal to share with an elderly neighbor or a family in need.
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Remember, it’s OK not to be jolly all the time. As we grow up, we quickly we realize that while as joyful as the holiday season can be, anxiety and stress don’t take winter breaks. That’s why it’s important to think about what you can do to cope and how you can be there for others in a way that works for you.
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