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It’s that time of year again. Holiday season is gearing up. The Jewish high holidays just behind us and pumpkins and Halloween decorating abound. Here in America, we head into the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve holiday season. Oh, and we’re also having an election. Campaigns, election outcomes, decorating, shopping, putting together costumes, menus, gift lists, time pressures, parties, weight gain, sleep deprivation, social pressures, social media, credit card bills, financial pressures, relatives, expectations, disappointments. It’s no wonder that we barely enjoy the event once it’s arrived because we’re exhausted, distracted, and disappointed by unmet expectations. Time to say enough is enough! You can take back this season, take care of yourself, and have some fun along the way.
Here is a partial list of ways to take care, have fun, and truly be present this holiday season:
- Consistently take care of your health “basics”: drink enough water, eat healthy meals, exercise, get enough sleep.
- Moderation, moderation, moderation: food, drink, and other forms of consumption and celebratory behaviors. Remember, this won’t be your last chocolate bar, pumpkin spice coffee drink, meal, etc. If you take a pass, there will be other opportunities in your future. Maintain balance with your health basics.
- Maintain connection to those you love, enjoy, and that support you.
- Focus on what’s most important to you. Let your values guide how you spend your resources (time, attention, money).
- Set limits and say “No” to things, people, events, and/or opportunities that don’t reflect what’s most important to you.
- Make memories. This usually involves creating and enjoying experiences. It’s less about consumerism and stuff and more about connecting in the moment with yourself and people and the world around you.
- Which brings me to focusing on being present not just exchanging presents. Increase your awareness of precious moments, be aware of what you are experiencing. Slow down. Take it in. Savor. Often the really good stuff is in the little moments that pass too quickly. Don’t miss them!
- Minimize your exposure to negativity; people, situations, social and other media. Run don’t walk to those people and things that lift you up rather than pull you down. Better yet, contribute to that positive energy yourself!
- Less is more. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. More and bigger isn’t always better. Oftentimes we work too hard to create larger than life experiences. More food, more decorating, more candy, more presents, more parties don’t necessarily lead to more joy and fulfillment. Instead, more and more can lead to more exhaustion, distraction, indigestion, and young and old versions of tantrums. Focus on those things that are most important to you and offer the greatest return on investment.
- Let go of expectations. High expectations are a great way to set yourself up for disappointment. When you let go of expectations, of perfection, and of things and people outside of your control and accept yourself, others, and situations as they are; it can be freeing! Nothing and no one is perfect. You might just enjoy yourself more if you were free of irritation and disappointment. Aspire to letting go.
- Raise your Fun Factor! Create more “want to” and less “have to” in your holidays. Bring back some child-like excitement, playfulness, and awe. Focus on timeless concepts such as peace, gratitude, goodwill, love, quiet contemplation, joy, bounty,and wonder. All of these concepts are stress-busting, good-for-you options to add enjoyment to the holidays.
As you prepare for the upcoming holidays, make your list of ways to lower stress and increase enjoyment this season. What will you do to create more fulfillment and fun? What will you eliminate to cut down on stress and strife? How will you maintain a healthy balance? How will you let go? What might you try to accept? How will you show up, be present for, and contribute to the bounty, joy, and wonder that is all around us? Head into the holidays with a plan and the intention to experience a good time.
My wish for you is to experience the full bounty, wonder, and joy of the holiday season.