Ideas for the Holidays

For many people holidays have become dreaded days instead of festive occasions. For others, while the idea of parties and gift giving is wonderful and exciting, the actual experience is stressful and a great disappointment. If either of these feelings applies to you, perhaps you can try to celebrate the holidays in a different way this year.

For starters, take a few minutes to sit down and jot a list of the kind of things you have trouble with around the holidays. Be honest and give it some careful thought; discussing it with your friends or co-workers at break time may help you uncover factors causing you unhappiness that you never realized before. Then consider the following ideas as clues toward making the holidays more enjoyable.

Things to try

  • Overextending yourself physically and emotionally means to take on too many projects, jobs, parties, or commitments, leaving yourself tired, panicked or feeling put upon. Try to pace yourself and not overload on things you think “have got to be done before any special holiday.”
  • Practice saying “sorry, but no thanks” to demands on your time if you feel yourself getting less joyful and more uptight.
  • Watch out for overconsumption, which may take on several forms. Eating, drinking, and/or smoking too much are obvious excesses which can often be controlled by making simple contracts with yourself before you begin to celebrate.
  • Gift giving often crosses the line into over consumption. One measure is to ask yourself “does my gift giving cause financial hardship?” A “yes” answer suggests that in the long run your family might be better off with fewer boxes under the tree. Work on creating special memories by creating rituals and family projects together. Memories of caroling will warm the heart long after this year’s toy has lost its fascination.
  • On the subject of children, consider how many holidays end with tantrums. The problem may be Overstimulation, a “sensory overload” caused by too much excitement. Do yourself and your kids a favor and make the holidays simpler.
  • Find ways to “schedule” private time to balance out the “together time.” For instance, suggest a break and go for a walk alone to clear your mind and work off your meal, or take time out for a shower and nap or some exercise.
  • To those folks who are lonely during the holidays, reach out to others who share your situation. To those blessed by the company of loved ones, invite someone to share the day with you. Don’t hesitate to go caroling, visit nursing homes or collect clothing and food in order to share with others.
  • Finally, to those saddened each holiday by the absence of a loved one, there are things to do to ease the pain. You may choose some sort of memorial to celebrate the joy you once shared together. Memorials can be as traditional as flowers in church, or much more individual, such as proclaiming to yourself “this year I am donating my time to work for this charity in honor of …” This ritual can bring a new peace to your memories.

Make no mistake about it, the holidays are stressful for many; but, by taking time now to plan ways around personal struggles the holidays can go a whole lot better. Give it a try!