5 Ways to Feel More Merry
By Mary R. Dittman, M.B.A.
Once again, it’s that “most wonderful time of the year.” Unless you typically dread the holidays. I’m not a Scrooge, but I normally don’t enjoy the holiday season; in fact, my favorite day is December 26 because on that day I have survived another month of more holly and less jolly.
This year, I want to employ some of the tips I’ve learned over the past few Christmas seasons in order to tip the scales more toward “jolly.” If you also struggle with the ups and downs of the end of the year, read on:
First, manage your expectations. The media encourages us to try to recapture that “magical” feeling we had during the holidays when we were children; and, luckily, they will sell us lots of products to help us feel that way!
However, children don’t have the same experience of the holidays that adults do. They don’t worry about money spent on travel and gifts; they don’t rush around with shopping and parties and errands; they don’t concern themselves with excess calories or family drama; they aren’t up late decorating and baking.
You’re not going to be able to return to your childhood holiday experience! If you expect to, you are absolutely setting yourself up for disappointment.
Second, watch your mouth. (This one is mostly for me.) No – this isn’t another reminder that you shouldn’t camp out next to the Santa cookies and eggnog at the company party.
I have traditionally been quick to tell anyone who would listen about how much I hate the holidays. This year, with the exception of this article, I am committed to NOT voicing my dislike of the season. I may admit that it’s not my favorite time of the year, but I’m going to avoid discussions about my holi-hatred.
Talking incessantly about why you don’t like the holidays does not relieve those feelings – it amplifies them. On one hand, if you’re talking to someone who agrees with you, you’ll end up in a verbal mud pit where you both climb out dirty and discouraged. On the other hand, if you’re talking to someone who loves the holidays, you will come off as a Scroogey Debbie Downer, and you will be socially stranded with only a Yule log to keep you company.
Third, find something about this time of the year that you do enjoy and focus on that. There are things I like about the holidays: I like the decorations and the music, and I like eggnog and Christmas cookies. (Okay, I like any cookies at any time of the year.)
One thing I do enjoy during the season is practicing yoga next to my Christmas tree with Christmas carols playing as my background music. I like to bake, so the holidays are a fun time for me to try new recipes and give them as gifts to friends and associates.
Fourth, reduce your stress. Try making things a little easier on yourself. Don’t get upset about going to the company Christmas party without a date. Either don’t go, go alone and work that room and network, or take a friend. If you feel obligated to attend, go and stay for 30 minutes. Make sure you get some face-time with your boss, say hello to your favorite coworkers or people you never get to see at the office, then graciously thank the host and scoot out (because you’re SOOOOOO busy making the rounds to all these fun parties!).
To reduce our stress, some of my girlfriends and I agree not to exchange gifts. I really don’t need another pair of earrings (well, you can never have too much jewelry). Instead, we do something together: go to dinner and a movie, a play or concert, or a nice dinner on the town. It gives each of us a break from the holiday bustle, we don’t have to shop for another gift, and we can just decompress and enjoy some girl time.
Fifth, create some new traditions for yourself. Sometimes people give up something during Lent; perhaps you could take on something new during Christmas. Maybe you could read an uplifting devotional for 10 minutes every morning, or watch 30 minutes less of TV in favor of reading a fun novel. Maybe you buy yourself a new lip gloss every Monday or buy a seasonal flavor of coffee creamer.
When I was growing up, my brother and I loved my mom’s advent calendar. We were always so excited to see what was behind each “window.” Why not have your own advent calendar – you could have a scripture or a little piece of dark chocolate for each day.
If you’re over 40 (like I am), you could play your own version of “Elf on the Shelf” – it’s called “I can’t remember where I put my car keys (reading glasses, earrings, self-esteem).” Just try having something that you do during the holidays that is YOUR tradition for YOU that you can look forward to.
Remember: you are not a victim. You have choices during the holidays. This year, I am choosing to intentionally find ways to enjoy the season. I may not “love” this time of year, but I’m committed to making peace with the holidays.
And that feels pretty One-Derful.
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