It seems to happen earlier and earlier every year—I walk into a store and encounter the Christmas tree section. This year I came across a holiday display in September, and it certainly had an impact on me! I am already contemplating how my husband and I will spend the holidays and having some anticipatory anxiety as a result. If you, too, tend to struggle with anxiety and/or depression with the approach of Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, and New Years, read on. I’ve come up with some ways to emotionally survive and even thrive during this time of year.
Remember that it’s supposed to be about having fun!
This sounds like common sense, but many people feel a sense of obligation when it comes to holidays. They feel obliged to spend time with people whom they don’t like and/or they think they have to spend money they don’t have. The result is a memory bank full of unpleasantries and a new year starting out with debt instead of future goals and hopes. They go overboard on the preparation and experience anxiety and exhaustion as a result. This year, my husband and I will be getting away for Thanksgiving week, for a desert escape. Doing so means that we don’t have to make a decision about where and with whom to have turkey day dinner and we can focus instead on enjoying time together and with our friends who are also escaping from town.
Keep it simple!
The media blasts us with constant messages that we should do more and spend more in order to have a perfect holiday. The reality, though, is that the more we go overboard, the less pleasure we tend to get from the experience. I mostly enjoy a brief, but intense, holiday season of about two weeks. It all starts with a trip to a local tree farm to choose a perfect specimen. These two weeks are all about holiday music, baking, enjoying decorations, and getting together with friends and family. I sometimes send cards, but as far as gifts go, I keep it to a minimum and give gifts with meaning rather than hefty price tags.
Make a plan, and stick to it!
Many people start out well, with a careful list of gift items, special foods, and people to invite, and then they find themselves feeling tempted to add just one more item, one more person. Before they know it, they’re feeling overextended, resentful, and exhausted. Go out early, before the stores are crowded, with a list of people you intend to shop for, and do your best to check off those names early, before everyone else is there feeling frantic. Do your shopping online by the fire with a cup of hot cider. Make handmade truffles or other treats to share rather than gifts from the mall. I sometimes enjoy going to the mall to watch everyone else shopping, to see the beautiful decorations and listen to holiday sounds, while not spending a cent.
Decide today to make this the holiday that turned out to be just the way you wanted—one filled with warmth, tradition, and wonderful memories.
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