The holidays are quickly approaching. For many of us, this brings an odd mix of sweet and sad memories, happy and anxious anticipation, excitement and fear. If these describe your response, you are not alone. Here are some suggestions for making the holidays more manageable.
Prepare to prepare
Does your tradition include devotions, a menorah, or an Advent wreath? Are you a cookie baker? Perhaps you enjoy the White Elephant gift exchange. Whatever it is you enjoy doing to prepare for the upcoming season, decide what you need and make a list now. Choose when you will shop for those items and schedule the excursion. Feeling prepared can help to lower anxiety.
Another way to reduce those anxious thoughts and feelings is to set a realistic spending amount. We often overlook resources such as time and talent. Consider giving experiences and creating memories rather than buying expensive gifts that leave you overextended.
Stop scrolling. Pinterest cannot provide the perfect holiday, and Facebook does not capture reality. Those magazine layouts you see at the grocery check-out were created with lots of money and professionals. When we reject comparison, we can enjoy and be content with what we have.
Take time to frequently check in with yourself. What are you thinking, feeling, sensing in your body? Perhaps you are sad as you realize a loved one will not be with you. Maybe you are fearful because your holiday season will be different this year. Remember that you may be truly joyful while feeling other emotions such as sadness, anger, confusion, or fear.
Balance being alone, able to hear yourself think, with being in community, able to connect with others. If you are alone, put away your devices and read a book, write in a journal, or take a bath. If you are with others, share thoughts and feelings with one another. Whether you are alone or in community, be fully present.
Just say no
Reject the idea that you must attend every party, eat and drink more than you desire, and stay up late to cram in every possible bit of holiday celebration. You will enjoy the season more if you maintain balanced eating, engage in regular exercise, retire at the same time each night, and indulge in holiday cheer responsibly.
Silver and gold
Hold holiday traditions with an open hand, allowing them to be modified by life transitions. Choose a couple of family traditions that you desire to honor each year, and create new ones that allow fresh perspective.
Prioritize your faith community.Some now offer special services open to the community that honor the pain holidays can bring, helping to find comfort and joy in the midst of sorrow.Try searching for Blue Christmas Service in your city.