Monday, December 2, 2013

7 Ways to Make the Holidays More Enjoyable

{Photo credit here}
On the one hand, I love the Holidays: being able to see family and friends, celebrating gratitude and the birth of Jesus, and switching up the routine for a while.  It can be a time of great blessing and renewal.

On the other hand, I hate the busyness and the expectations the Holidays can bring.  Parties are crammed into a few days.  Meals take so much preparation and planning.  There are expectations to make sure everything turns out perfect – having the right amount of food, civil interactions with family members, finding the perfect gifts, and having to appear a certain way.

Everybody handles the holiday season differently.  For me, I have an introverted personality.  Large crowds, parties, and socializing drains me, like a battery having the life sucked out of it.  Some people, however, thrive in social environments.  Being in crowds and socializing at parties recharges their batteries and actually gives them energy.  I have a difficult time understanding this, but I know it is true because my husband is this way.

It is good to know which type of person you are.

If you are an introvert like me, or an extroverted perfectionist, you might need these tips to help you have a more enjoyable December.  Or maybe you are an extrovert but the holidays still stress you out.  Regardless, here are some hints to help you thrive during the holiday season, instead of just surviving it.

1.  Unplug from Pinterest.  There are so many ideas on Pinterest, it can be overwhelming.  The “cuteness” and “cleverness” is never ending.  In addition, it is full of unrealistic, perfect pictures.  In no way does the internet portray real life.  If you need a recipe or an idea and you MUST look at Pinterest, then set a timer for 10 minutes.  Look it up and move on with your day.  If you can’t handle that, then look something up in an old fashioned cook book.

2.  Slow down.  Nothing is worth doing, if it is taking away your peace and stressing you out.  Work at a pace that is enjoyable to you.  If you don’t get everything done, it’s not the end of the world.  In order to make the actually day of the holiday enjoyable, the journey must also be enjoyable.

Don’t let the stress of the preparation carry over into the holiday.  This past Thanksgiving, I made sure to make the preparation as fun as the actual day.  In turn, doing so made Thanksgiving Day (and all the other parties that weekend) more fun.

3.  Adjust the settings on your “expectation meter” to ZERO.  Tell yourself right now, “It’s not going to be perfect” and “it’s not going to turn out how I want”.  But that’s OK.  Don’t imagine the worst – just accept the events as they come.  Lowering your expectations will automatically ease your stress.

4.  Don’t consume yourself with what other people might be thinking of you.  The truth is, they’re not thinking about YOU, they are thinking about themselves.  So don’t beat yourself up about something you said or didn’t say.  Don’t analyze what you did in certain situations.  No one is thinking about you – if they do, it will only be for a moment and they will move on.  Embrace the awkwardness.

5.  Don’t participate in gossip.  You might understand how harmful it is to other people.  Yet, gossip is just as harmful to the person speaking it.  If you spend your time talking about others, even if it is good things, you will begin to worry about what other people are saying about you.  Gossip feeds a low self-esteem whether you are degrading someone else to feel better about yourself, or whether you are comparing someone’s strengths to your weaknesses.

If you find that you are surrounded by toxic people, people who gossip a lot or make you feel bad about yourself, it is OK to walk away.  As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  So don’t consent to be a part of toxic conversations, even if you are just trying to be polite.  We, as a society, do so many ridiculous things in the name of “politeness”.  Don’t sacrifice your self-worth in order to be polite to someone you barely know.

6.  Quiet your inner critic.  Think of your inner critic, or the voice of anxiety, as a toddler throwing a temper tantrum.  Just like a toddler, if you respond to the crying, you are adding more fuel to the fire.  Ignore the voices in your head that put you down, degrade your self-worth, or make you feel like you’re not good enough.  Ignore the voices that cause anxiety, perfectionist tendencies, or obsessive behaviors.  Tell yourself, “Remember, I am not going to do that anymore!”  And try to move on.  Lead with your body (engage in health routines) even if your head isn’t there yet.  If you lead with your actions, your mind will eventually follow.

7.  Remember, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.  Yet, remember, if it is worth doing, then it is worth a little pain and suffering.  Sometimes during the Christmas season, we get so busy with events that we forget to take care of ourselves.  It is OK to pick and choose which events to attend.  If something is causing you too much anxiety, whether you are too busy or you just need to take care of yourself, it is OK to say no.
All in all, we want the Holidays to be an enjoyable time, right?  So, instead of focusing on other people’s standards, focus on what you need.  If you are having a good time, more often than not, others around will have a good time as well.

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