For many adults, there is a love-hate relationship with the holiday season. This time of year can bring joy and beauty, but it can also weigh on our mental health. We are tasked with making plans, coordinating schedules, and possible family drama, while, decorating the home, planning the meals, buying the gifts…. just making the season. Period.
But as you take time to kick off this year’s holiday season think about some of these things
1. Everybody enjoys holidays that are beautifully seamless but make sure while you are making plans, that these plans include things that you also enjoy. As I began pulling down the decorations for my own home, I quickly realized that I wanted to modify the whole decorating shebang. I wanted to decorate it in a way that made sense to me, as I am the one and only person who was going to get it out, put it up, take it down, and restore it in a way that would make it practical & easy enough to rinse and repeat next season. Oftentimes, we do things simply to make other people happy, we believe that they want all the things, but in reality, we have not even checked in with them to see what they truly want. More importantly, we are not checking in with ourselves to ask what we genuinely want. Let's change that!
2. What do you truly enjoy doing during the holiday season? I enjoy having time off to relax. Having the time to do things I do not normally get to do in my day-to-day life like reading or making crafts. I enjoy having the option of choosing what to do and what not to do, whether that's not doing very much or nothing at all, either way, it's what I choose! Think about this… and be completely honest with yourself. What do you enjoy about the holidays? Or rather, should I ask, how would you like to enjoy your holiday break? What would you prefer to be doing? What could you live without during the holidays? Now, for the challenging part, allow yourself to actually do at least one of the things that feel most authentic to you. Even if this means letting go of something else. This could look like, not adding all the holiday décor this year and cutting down on things. Maybe you do enjoy baking cookies, but not what you see people on YouTube making with the royal icing that looks perfectly frosted. Perhaps you don’t rewatch that one-holiday movie 5 times this season. Maybe you watch it once with someone you really want to spend quality time with and then spend the rest of your time doing something else that you want to engage in. Whatever it is, make it something you choose and that you enjoy. Sounds simple, but I know it is not. This leads us to…
3. Finally, after you have been honest with yourself about all of this, chose how you want to spend the holidays this year and work on just doing it, without explanations. Everyone will not always understand your changes, others may try to hijack your plans. This is what makes this so difficult. It will mean letting go of trying to make others happy and focusing on what feels good to you. This is not a selfish act. These are behaviors that will allow you to take care of your own mental health instead of thinking that constantly doing things to make other people feel good will make you feel good. That is an irrational thought that will keep good mental health at bay.