Manage Your Holidays with Intention and Gratitude
By Kathleen Todd
Holidays are described as the “most wonderful time of the year”. These can be special and magical times with rituals around cooking, decorating, religious and family celebrations. Our childhood experiences and positive memories coupled with media messages about the wonders and joys of holidays can contribute to expectations of this being a special and magical time of year.
Commercials and displays for the holidays now start after Halloween. For over two months, we shift the focus of our lives and engage in increased activities, planning, decorating, and financial spending. This shift can be both fun and stressful. There are several stressors that can negatively impact the celebration of the holidays. The extra activities and responsibilities from holiday parties, children’s performances, special holiday events, and friends and family get to-gathers put a strain on the normal balance of time. As fun as these activities may be, they can be exhausting. Many of us succumb to the pressure to overspend on gifts and other holiday events.
The busyness of the season can have a negative effect on our health and sleep. Holiday menus provide an increase in sugar and alcohol consumption which can disrupt our healthy eating habits. There can also be a change in maintaining our normal routines and time for exercise and relaxation.
Social media creates pressure to present pictures of the ideal and perfect holiday experiences. Reading other posts can set us up to compare and judge our holiday experiences.
Entertaining and family get-togethers can be meaningful as well as stressful. Recently we have seen an increase in family strife regarding differences in political views. The current political climate may contribute to more families experiencing divisiveness. This can result in a lack of understanding and respect for each other’s differences.
Holidays also bring awareness of loss. We think about loved ones who have died or who are estranged. It can also bring up other transitions and changes in family life: empty nesting, living away from family and friends, and changes in financial security.
Ways to Manage the Holiday with Intention and Gratitude
The most important way to manage the holiday season is to be mindful. Set your intention to be present and to experience the season with joy and gratitude. Stop and think about what is most important to you at this time of year and share it with your partner. Talk about the joys and stresses of the holidays. Share your ideas about celebrating the holiday in the most meaningful way and support each other in making it happen the way you want.
Some questions to ask yourselves:
• What are the most meaningful activities we want to create and experience?
• What activities bring us joy and gratitude?
• How will we manage finances: food, clothing, decorations, social events, and entertainment?
• How do we maintain our healthy habits of exercise, sleep, and good nutrition?
Some practices that enhance your holiday experience include:
• Schedule time for self-care: exercise, meditation, quiet time, etc.
• Schedule time to check-in with each other and be each other’s accountability buddy for staying in balance and maintaining healthy habits.
• Schedule time together to talk and nurture each other. Play together and enjoy the magic and joys of the season.
• Create strategies to support each other during social and family activities.
Remember the blessings of the holiday season and share it with each other. It is these very moments that are the most precious gifts you give yourself and your partner during the holiday season.
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