The holiday season is upon us. Are you are feeling the excitement and joy? The media would lead us to believe that everyone is walking around relishing the season—music, parties, gifts, gatherings, and spiritual renewal.
But for too many, it marks the season of too much—too much money being spent, too much rushing, too much travel and traffic, too much food and alcohol, and too many obligations.
What should be a very special time of the year instead has many saying, “I can’t wait for the holidays to be over!” Can you relate? I know I used to feel that way. Between rushing around to buy gifts, keeping up with holiday celebrations, and occasionally fitting in a vacation or trip to visit loved ones, the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day were filled with stress.
I’ve spent a lot of time brainstorming with clients and friends about how to bring meaning and joy back into the holiday season. This year in particular, in the aftermath of tragedies such as the wildfires in CA and the horrific killings in Pittsburg, it seems appropriate to look at how we can all make the holidays more meaningful, happier, and healthier.
Here are EllenG Coaching’s tips. If you have found ways to make your holiday season more joyful, please leave your comments below to share creative ideas with all of my readers. And I do wish you, Happy Holidays and a Happy, Healthy New Year!
- Visualize and write down what would be your ideal holiday season. Who would you like to be with, what would you like to do, which traditions would you hold on to, and which would you skip? How would you feel on January 1st if the holiday season was everything you wanted it to be? Now make a list of the top five things you want to do this month that will bring you joy and fulfillment, and schedule them into your calendar.
- Say “Yes” to the invitations that excite you, and “No, thank you” to those that don’t. We often think we are being rude or unkind if we turn down an invitation, when in fact, a simple, “Thank you so much. I appreciate the invitation but unfortunately will not be able to attend.” is enough. We don’t need to make excuses or feel bad. Having another obligation, even if it’s staying home and taking time for rest and rejuvenation is honoring your needs, and remaining authentic.
- Give a gift from your heart, rather than from your wallet. If purchasing gifts causes you to stress, get innovative with ways to give that won’t challenge your budget. Why not bake brownies for your favorite chocoholic, or cook a lasagna dinner for your cousin who just had a baby? If you have creative talent, giving someone a hand-made gift shows meaning and thought. “I owe you coupons” such as a back massage, a night of watching the kids or walking your dog for a week, are fun to think up and so appreciated by the recipient.
- Change the format of your traditional holiday gathering. Rather than doing all the work yourself, why not host a potluck dinner? How about a night of friends cooking together? Or try a wine tasting party, where everyone brings their favorite bottle to share. Be creative. Parties do not have to be elaborate to be great fun.
- Rethink your holiday traditions and keep only those that are still serving you well. Sometimes we hold on to traditions that were part of our youth, even if they no longer feel meaningful. Keep what feels right, throw away the rest, and then create one or two that make sense with your family unit as it is today.
- Do not use the holidays as an excuse to neglect self-care. During busy times, it is more important than ever to take care of yourself. Schedule in your exercise sessions in advance. With parties and shopping, your routine might need to change. Don’t skip meals thinking you’ll make up the calories at the office party after work. Get the sleep you need; you don’t have to be the last one leaving every get-together. Remember, if you wear yourself down and get sick, you’ll miss all the festivities. And if you come out of the season with 10 extra pounds, you’ll start the year feeling sluggish and bad about yourself.
- Reflect on all of the things you’ve accomplished in the past year and all the good things that have happened for which you feel grateful. Then write down a few goals for the upcoming New Year. Make sure your goals have meaning and purpose to you and are not the same “shoulds” you tell yourself every year. Ask yourself the question, “One year from now, what is the single most important thing I would like to accomplish that will make me feel fulfilled and fabulous?” Start the year off right by breaking it down into manageable pieces, and begin the journey one step at a time!