With Thanksgiving coming in just a few short days and December right around the corner, many of us feel as if the hectic nature of the holiday season is gearing up. Between family get-togethers, office Christmas parties, neighborhood celebrations, shopping for gifts, and sending out greeting cards, this time of year can easily become chaotic. This year may feel particularly overwhelming this holiday season as celebrations return closer to normal after 2020 saw a lot of shutdowns and scaled-down celebrations due to the pandemic. It can be easy to get so caught up in the rush of ‘getting everything done’ that we can forget to enjoy the holiday season. What is meant to be the “most wonderful time of the year” can sometimes turn into the “busiest time of the year,” leaving us feeling drained and guilty for not enjoying every moment. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. By getting ahead of things and evaluating your upcoming 6 weeks, you can create a holiday season that allows you to spend time with those you love, participate in holiday traditions, AND make meaningful memories while maintaining your self-care.
You don’t have to do everything or attend every single event. It may feel like a foreign concept if you’re a habitual people-pleaser, but you aren’t obligated to attend that book club soireé or your child’s PTA holiday celebration if it’s going to push you over the edge. Being able to prioritize what events you attend and knowing your own social limits is an important self-care skill. Now, of course, you want to be there for the people you love and not become a recluse, but make sure to not spread yourself too thin either. You will enjoy the holiday season more and be a better person to those around you if you are realistic about your limits and the fact that you probably shouldn’t do it all.
Identify your favorite traditions.
Going along with prioritizing slowing down, make sure to identify a few traditions or events that are your absolute favorites. These are things that you would never, ever, ever want to miss. Whether it’s church on Christmas Eve with your extended family, baking and decorating cookies with your children, or attending a performance of the Nutcracker, we all have a few things that we look forward to each Christmas season. If you aren’t sure what a key holiday tradition is for you, think about what you look forward to the most about the holiday season. For me, it’s decorating the Christmas tree with my family on a Sunday afternoon in early December. We play Christmas music and take our time with the lights, ornaments, and tinsel with frequent breaks for cookies and apple cider or hot chocolate.
Once you have identified your favorite traditions, make sure to block out time for them. Also, make sure to communicate the importance of these activities to your significant other or family members that you want to do said activities with. Better yet, ask them about what is most important to them during the upcoming season. That way, you can all plan to spend your valuable time and energy on the things that are most important to each other. Additionally, getting ahead of things can help you to block out time in your busy schedule. For example, if one of your favorite traditions is driving to a Christmas lights show, you can go ahead and nail down a night that you’ll be doing that rather than leaving it up to chance and potentially missing out on it.
Be open to creating new traditions.
Maybe you thought about your favorite traditions as mentioned in the above section and realized that you don’t have many, if any. Or perhaps you are just ready to shake things up a little this Christmas season. Regardless of your situation, trying new things each holiday season is a great way to discover and create a treasured tradition for your family (or you know, just yourself; that works too). Reader’s Digest has a great piece full of ideas of new Christmas traditions to try out, or you can always talk to family members and friends to see what their favorite things to do are over the course of the season. The bottom line: don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try something new!
Find a way to give back.
As the saying goes, “it is better to give than to receive.” In the middle of the business of the upcoming month, challenge yourself to carve out some time to give back to your community. Serving others can have surprisingly impressive self-care benefits, such as boosting well-being and lowering symptoms of depression. Besides, it’s the right thing to do, and there are plenty of options. You can consider a variety of options from serving food at the local soup kitchen, shopping for presents from underprivileged children, or spreading Christmas cheer at a local retirement home. And these only scratch the surface of opportunity. Take a look around your town and you’ll most likely be immediately confronted with an abundance of places that are seeking volunteers and support.After all, the holiday season is called the Season of Giving for a reason.
While the upcoming weeks may be busy, you are ultimately in control of how you spend your time and how you continue to practice self-care. By choosing to be intentional about what activities and events you participate in, you can create a meaningful and fulfilling holiday season rather than one filled with insignificant hustle and bustle.Photo by Luna Lovegood from Pexels