I loved Christmas as a child. My excitement for the season would build up over December as school ended and the summer holidays began. Soon illustrious holiday decorations were hanging around town, the Christmas tree would go up, and presents were being bought. Christmas was always so magical as a child. Even as I grew older and knew that Santa was just another term for my parents, I still loved to imagine his coming on Christmas morning. Christmas Day was filled to the brim with good food, good times and family, and I felt like I didn’t have a care in the world.
As I’ve grown older, Christmas has slowly lost its magic. It often feels like another thing on my hectic ‘To do’ list, and on top of managing my normal work load and everyday life, I also have to navigate the ebbs and flows that come with holiday festivities. The holidays have become more about survival than enjoyment, which if we’re honest, is not what Christmas is really about. That being said, here are 5 steps I’ll be keeping in mind this coming week so I not only survive the holidays, but can learn to love them again.
- Have a ‘Child like’ mindset
We all have responsibilities over Christmas, and it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of simply crossing things off our list. Next time you feel yourself tensing up, stop and remember what you loved about the holidays as a child. If you’re stressed about Christmas dinner, remember why you loved it so much growing up. Perhaps financial stress is playing on your mind? Remember how simple gifts and cards surprised you as a kid. Use the excitement to find the fun of the season again.
- Make time to relax
I can almost here you exclaim, “Relax over the holidays? You must be kidding!” but hear me out for a second. While you’re working tirelessly to pull off a wonderful holiday season for friends, family or colleagues, you’re neglecting yourself if you don’t pause and embrace the festivities too. Make a decision to stop working, and sit down with a family member or colleague at a Christmas party. Allow yourself to join in the banter and games that take place, and don’t be afraid to take five minutes for yourself so you can be centred.
- Keep things simple
I know, I know, simple and holidays don’t really go together these days, but it’s the simple things that you will remember most about the season: the smell of the Christmas tree, the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you unwrap a gift someone has put thought into, and the warmth of a loved one’s hug. Don’t try to complicate the season with too many activities, over the top expectations, and stressful tasks. Just stick to the things that matter the most and focus on them.
- Keep family time light
The holiday season is prime time for family conflict to come up. Passive aggressive comments can arise over dinner conversation, arguments arrive over seemingly minuscule details, and issues and circumstances that occurred years ago can rear their ugly heads and make it a day we’d rather forget. While it’s important to work through your feelings, try not to let bitterness overtake your enjoyment of the day. Choose to not take things personally, and try to respond to remarks with positivity. Monitor how long you spend in difficult conversations, and allow yourself to debrief afterward in the privacy of your own home.
- Avoid negative coping strategies.
Yep, your mother-in-law just made another comment about how you’re running out of time to have children, so you reach for another margarita. Or maybe the stress of your holiday workload is getting to you, so you live it up one night in an attempt to forget about it. You regret it the next day. What do these circumstances have in common? You tried to survive using negative and harmful coping strategies. Allow yourself to relax and enjoy festivities, but don’t use alcohol, substances or other unhealthy habits as a crutch. You will hurt yourself and the people around you. Instead, try to implement steps 1-4. This will help you to cope with the season, and hopefully find the magic in it again.
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