For me the holiday season starts with Halloween and ends with New Year’s Day. October through January are fun and exciting months for a lot of people including myself. Traditionally, I celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s during this season which are all unique holidays in their own way. Although I thoroughly enjoy the holidays, it can be stressful for me and others due to all the expectations and obligations, so I came up with 5 ways to help make the holiday season more peaceful.
- have realistic expectations – The holidays are supposed to be fun and enjoyable, but sometimes we set too high of expectations around the holidays. Having the perfect Christmas tree or receiving the most sought after present sounds nice, but can leave us feeling underwhelmed or disappointment if our expectations are not met. Lowering your expectations and accepting that everything does not have to be perfect is a great way to spend more meaningful time with family and friends during holiday events.
- practice gratitude – Thanksgiving is a holiday that revolves around giving thanks for what we have and to count our blessings, but the very next day (or even the night of Thanksgiving) is known as Black Friday. Black Friday is a day where many people stampede into stores to buy discounted items which sometimes even results in fights and arguments with other customers. In my opinion, Black Friday contradicts what Thanksgiving is all about so it is important to practice being grateful for what we already have and for the people in our lives so we don’t feel the need to attack others for a discounted iPad.
- accept that you cannot do everything or see everyone – Accepting that you can only go to a certain amount of events for each holiday will help you feel less guilty about saying “no” to too many invitations. Unless your entire family can get together on the same day at the same time, chances are you aren’t going to be able to see everyone that is important to you on every holiday. That is why prioritizing events is important and accepting that you cannot do everything or see everyone in one day. You can decline an invitation if you have too much going on that day (or decline for any reason really) and plan another holiday activity if you would like such as seeing Christmas lights or baking Christmas cookies. After all, going to an event overly stressed out isn’t going to be good for you or the people around you.
- only spend what you feel comfortable with on presents – The people you love and care for should still love and care for you regardless of the amount you spend on their presents (if they don’t then that’s another issue). I personally do like to buy presents for those I care about, but to prevent overspending, I create a list and have a budget on what I feel comfortable spending. I also try to give myself plenty of time to get my shopping done; this helps me keep track of the amount I spend and makes me feel better than overspending or over-giving during the holidays.
- have fun and practice mindfulness – The holidays are meant to be enjoyable so it would be best to stop trying to please everyone (which is another unrealistic expectation) and start having more fun by participating in activities and events that make you feel happy. When you’re having fun, people around you tend to pick up on your energy and usually start enjoying themselves more too. Staying mindful around the holidays (or anytime) by trying to appreciate each moment can help alleviate worrisome thoughts of the future and help you stop dwelling on the past which cannot be changed and can only be learned from.
No matter what holidays you celebrate or don’t celebrate, this season can be a truly fun and special time to spend with family and friends. If you allow yourself to cherish each moment and accept the imperfections, you too can have a peaceful holiday season.
Happy holidays everyone and safe travels during this busy time of year!