Gifts: some people love the tradition of gift-giving. For others, it’s an exercise in stressing the eff out. Not only is it a lot of work – whether you’re buying or handmaking presents – but there’s always that feeling of, “Am I giving gifts that are good enough? Is x person even going to care?” or “Am I going to be the odd man out who hasn’t purchased extravagant items?” Relax. Any gift given is a reflection of love. It doesn’t matter what it is; if it’s thoughtful and given with affection, there’s no contest.
It’s a message that’s ingrained into us throughout the holiday season: making amends. Fixing things that haven’t worked out. Trying to rebuild burnt bridges. And it’s a great idea, but don’t let anyone guilt you into doing this. If there are people you’ve distanced yourself from for the good of your well-being, you are under no obligation to seek them out. Know yourself, and do only as much as you feel you can.
Although it is important to hold onto the True Meaning (TM) of the holidays, don’t let anyone make you feel bad for enjoying the trimmings. I’ve seen a lot of cases where people will look down their nose at those who choose to celebrate the ‘fake’ side of this time of year, such as television specials, music, movies, etc. Just as you should let others observe the time in their own way, let yourself do the same. If that means blaring Christmas music in your car to and from work, I say get down with your jingle bell rock.
I can’t take full credit for this one, because my husband had to tell me this today.
As you’re making plans and trying to execute them, and then find that you are plagued by anxiety, take a moment to be brutally honest with yourself about why you may be feeling that way. Is the course of action you’ve chosen based on your conceived notions of how others will receive you? Is there something you can do to change that? In the best case scenario, what would make you feel better? Can you compromise your plans to be more in line with your own happiness? Stop and think about it. Anxiety is like a leak; follow it to its source and then figure out what to do, instead of only focusing on the puddles.
It’s tempting to go, “On x date, I will do all my baking/holiday shopping/etc.” This is particularly troublesome for me, because I was hardwired from my school days to go, “I can wait until the last minute and pass. No problem.” But life isn’t reading “Lord of the Flies” the night before a test. There’s more to it. Break down your tasks into small bite-sized pieces and work a little each day. That way, if x date rolls around and you can’t do ALL THE THINGS, you’re not left in the lurch. Your brain also builds up a momentum, and you can actually get more done rather than doing nothing and then trying to cram it all together. Don’t get overwhelmed. You got this.
Yesterday, our power went out very unexpectedly. And it wasn’t just the ‘oh 5 minutes weh’ kind of outage. It was hours of darkness. However, this made things all the more inspiring because it made me realize that you can’t plan for everything this time of year. All you can do is pick back up once the dust settles. Fight back against discouragement. It’s going to be okay. The light will return.
December is interesting because not only do we have the holidays but there’s the double-whammy of ‘this is the end of the year.’ There’s a feeling of finality. And that’s not always good, because it’s easy to go, “God, I didn’t get done x, y or z.” We come across that list of resolutions and realize that maybe we’re the same weight or we still don’t do our laundry before we run out of clean clothes. Don’t get lost in the past. Be present in this moment. Make it count.
Your mental or physical illness won’t take a break around the holidays, so you might as well make a place for it at your table and on your schedule. There will be times when you can’t even bring yourself to work on the laundry list of items that need done before the 25th or whenever you observe your special time. That’s okay. Try not to be too hard on yourself. Sometimes doing the best you can means just waking up. Stressing yourself out will only make it worse. Take care.
Why does it always feel like the holidays are some kind of competition? A contest to see who is charitable enough, who is good enough, who has enough money and time to be the best gift-giver or receiver out there? But the fact is this: you don’t have a thing to prove. Do as much as you’re able, and if you give from your heart, be satisfied. The people who matter will already love you, and you deserve that love. Let it in.
It’s easy to let your emotions get the best of you. Everyone is moving a mile a minute, completely engrossed in their own needs, desires and ambitions. Even as they all rush around you, take a few extra seconds to notice where you are and what is happening. Give others the benefit of the doubt, and remember that only you get to decide how you are going to handle a given situation. Don’t take the stress and burdens of others on your own shoulders.
Not every day is going to be packed with good will or even productivity. There will be bad days, even during the season where it seems like everything should be red and green and silver and gold 24/7. Try to be present. When bad things happen, acknowledge them for what they are – seconds, minutes, hours – and then, move on and make the decision to feel the way you want to feel.