Last week I discussed holiday stress and why many of us want to skip the season. Our attitude can play a huge role in our overall experience. As I mentioned last week, our mood is affected by our self-care, so eat in moderation, exercise, and get adequate sleep. Only participate in those activities that mean the most to you and your family. Visiting extended family, managing our finances, and trying to create the “perfect holiday” can also be stressful. Accept that we can’t change others, but instead focus on positive family interactions. Set realistic expectations, develop a game plan, share in the workload, and keep it simple. Holidays are more enjoyable when we focus on the people rather than the gifts. Think presence over presents!
How do you reframe your thinking, capture the spirit of the holidays, and be grateful for the people in your life? One way would be through service either to those in need or within your own family. Shop for a child in need or deliver an unexpected meal to a neighbor. Our family modified the Secret Santa tradition and each select a family member to secretly help with things like chores, leaving a nice note or a piece of candy every day. Other ways to create a positive spirit are reading an advent devotional/calendar, decorating the Christmas tree/home, baking cookies, watching holiday movies, and/or playing games.
Personally, traditions have always helped me get into the right frame of mind for the holidays. Cooking certain foods, listening to Christmas music, attending a Christmas concert and Christmas Eve services, driving around to see the lights, and even sending out Christmas cards are part of my family’s traditions. We spend many hours in the kitchen or around the dining room table sharing stories, reminiscing, and enjoying our connections, but remember to take some alone time too. The holiday season is a time to reach out, let go of grudges, forgive others/self, and focus on our blessings. Healthy relationships are one way to experience a joyful holiday. But the greatest gift of all for me is the birth of Christ. Decide which are these suggestions are going to be most helpful for you and make it happen.