Everyone wants the holidays to be joyful, but frequently the joy is hard to find. You might see glimpses of it as you’re making lists, rushing around doing errands, and scrambling to meet work deadlines for your holiday days off and the looming year-end. All that pressure doesn’t feel very joyful.
In fact, stress and pressure can leave you feeling anxious and irritated. Then, you may find yourself anxious and irritable about being anxious and irritable. The whole holiday season can spiral down from there. Bah humbug, there you go.
Be honest with yourself are you waking up at 3 AM to mentally review your task lists, expenses, credit card bills, menus, plans, and everything else having to do with the holiday season? Are you torturing yourself with wondering will my main course be a disaster?” “Will my son/daughter/cousin/aunt/uncle/friend/coworker be happy with their gifts?” “How much weight am I going to gain?” “How much money am I going to lose?” “Are my family members going to argue?” And perhaps the toughest question of them all “How can I be happy when my loved one is no longer with us?”
It’s difficult but not impossible.
Change the script you have in your head about how the holidays must be for them to be considered happy or successful.
Most of us are dictated to by our memories. Or by memories softened with time and blended with wishful thinking we’ve seen on television or in the movies.
Slow it down
If you have days off for the holidays, you probably feel like a kid dropped into the middle of Disney World unexpectedly. There are so many things you want to do that you don’t know where to begin. It’s also like a game show with a countdown clock in the corner, constantly pressuring you.
There is so much to do and there might be a lot of people you want to see. Since 2020, germs have really had an impact on the amount of time we spend together. Now, we feel like we’ve left the coronavirus pandemic behind, but the ugly reality is that some scientists say we now have a tri-demic on our hands; unprecedented levels of the flu, plus surges in COVID and RSV. If you’re not familiar with that yet, look it up. When you get together with friends and family, keep it all in mind and take the necessary precautions.
At first, when you consider the holiday season, it can feel like there are endless possibilities. But when you have to pinpoint exactly what you’re going to do, where you going to go, who and what you’re going to see, you suddenly figure out that there’s just not enough time and money to make it all happen. Talk about stress crashing in on you!
Remind yourself that things are not going to go perfectly, no matter how well and thoroughly you plan. You’re only human, and you can only do so much. When things go sideways try to remember that mistakes, glitches, and screw-ups are frequently the unexpected source of fun, spontaneity, and good memories.
Find Your Joy
Be alert during the holidays for those perfect little moments that will happen whether you notice them or not. Maybe it’s a moment of peace in the early morning when you look at the holiday decoration in your home and savor the quiet. It could be a peaceful moment during a religious service. Or a moment you look out of the window and relish the view. It could be a moment when you’re sharing a holiday movie with loved ones and look around to see everyone laughing, smiling, or somehow absorbing the message of the film. It could be the same type of moment while you’re sharing a meal, a cup of coffee, or holiday cookies.
It might be none of those specific things but something else that provides a moment where you just take it in and absorb it, and let it nourish your heart and soul.
One way to worry less about things in your life is to worry more about the challenges others are facing. Volunteer some time, resources, or both if you can. Help people, help animals, help the environment. The possibilities are endless. You may think what you can do isn’t much, but don’t talk yourself out of doing what you can. The truth is that the level of need in the world is so great that whatever you can do is valuable.
In a world where people are still willing to fight with and condemn others because of religious differences, remember that no religion (that I’m aware of, at least), frowns on doing good for others.
How do you get through the challenges of the holiday season? Feel free to reach out and share at firstname.lastname@example.org.