With the calendar now in November, we have officially hit the most wonderful time of the year.
Wait, did you just pause when reading that?
While the holidays should be a lovely time for family togetherness and personal reflection, it often doesn’t turn out that way. An overscheduled calendar, demanding relatives, and financial strain can sometimes make what should be a merry season not so merry. The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are five intentional ways to approach the holiday season so it is, indeed, a bright spot this year.
Reminisce. The best way to consider how you want to approach the upcoming season is by looking back. What have been moments over the years that you have just loved? What are things you wish were a part of how you celebrate? What traditions do you follow now? How do you decorate? How do you honor others? How do you take care of yourself during this time?
Know what you want. The first step for having a holiday season that brings you joy is knowing what you and those you care for most need to feel happy, healthy, whole, and loved this holiday season. After looking back, it is time to really focus on this year. What feeling do you most want to have this year? What do you wish for your loved ones? What experiences would allow you to have a glorious time this year? Maybe you want more simple moments or less expenses, more decorations or more quiet time, more time to serve others or fewer places to be. Maybe some traditions need to be let go or new ones need to be started. How would you like to honor people in your life?
Know your limit. Soon, invitations, holiday greetings, and wish lists will start rolling in. Before they do, get really clear about how much you can and want to do. How many nights do you want to be away from your house each week? Will you accept every invitation that you are offered or pick and choose the ones that bring you the greatest joy or sense of connection? What can you afford to spend on gifts without putting yourself in debt or stressing yourself out? Really determine your limit and then find ways to keep to it. Come up with creative gifts you can make. Be honest when you turn down an invitation. Honoring your truth and circumstances is a way of honoring others.
Set boundaries and expectations. Is one of the reasons you hate the holidays because you always see the aunt who insists on commenting on your weight, children (or lack thereof), or job? This year, it’s time to teach Aunt Doris how to treat you (politely, of course). When she starts in, simply look at her and say, “this isn’t a productive conversation for us to have” and change the subject. Moreover, if you are going to be doing things differently this year, set expectations early and clearly with family members. ** Look for more on this one next week!
Take care of yourself. When things get busy, it is easy to let our own self-care go in order to make time. We eat less healthy, drink less water, sleep less, move less, and give ourselves less of what we need in order to give others more. Here’s the catch, though: that solution actually drains us and leaves us less able to care for others long term. Make sure there are several things you are doing every day, even when things are frantic, to care for you. A healthy and whole you is always a happier you.