Making a Choice for a Wholesome Holiday Season
With our 2008 holiday season fast approaching, I thought it might be good to ask you to take the time to consider how you want this holiday season to be for you. Once the season is upon us, it is easy to be carried away in a flurry of activities and forget what we intended, as there is no time or energy left for planning it. The season then controls us. Our season will be much better if we control it.
Let’s talk about you. Before you can give to others during the “giving season”, it is imperative that you remember your own self-care. If you haven’t cared for yourself through the season, it is likely you will not be able to really give to others. Simple things to remember for your self-care are nutrition, sleep, exercise, and some “down time” for yourself. Make a commitment to put these things on your priority list.
First, plan and schedule regular exercise. When things are added to your schedule in all areas, exercise can be a routine to keep you whole. Not only will it keep your brain fresh and clear, it will put endorphins in your system and help you maintain a balanced mood. The holidays tend to bring up emotions that can be difficult to deal with in the best of circumstances, but if you are tired and not taking care of yourself, being emotional definitely can make the season less than pleasant. Exercise will also help you if you are eating foods from which you generally shy away. None of us feels good if we have added five more pounds over the season so exercise can help with some of those extra calories.
Second, eat as healthy as possible. Yes, there will be times that you choose to indulge, but really look at the foods you choose and ask yourself how you will feel after you have had your splurge. Limit your splurges by continuing to eat healthy foods on a regular basis, limiting your splurges to those “planned” outings. Sugar and carbohydrates may taste good in the moment, but ultimately they spike our blood sugar and can put us in patterns of eating much more than we would normally. This can start us in a downward spiral and affect how well we manage our stress.
Third, get your sleep! It is easy to lose our sleep time by extending our hours of “doing” in preparation. This just isn’t the best choice. Know yourself well enough to know what you need and make yourself a priority. If you lose sleep, everyone around you loses. You lose your energy, your focus, your sense of humor and that isn’t fun for anyone, least of all you.
Next, make sure you have some “down time” for you. Take some time to have quiet time, reflect, journal, and stay in touch with yourself. Quiet your mind by doing some deep breathing, allowing your body and mind to let down and be calm. This keeps you centered and in touch with yourself. This can help prevent you from overdoing, overextending, and overspending. Listen to yourself and follow through. If you are not taking time to listen, you may get caught in the whirlwind. And if you can take this quiet time, you are more likely to be able to “be in the moment” through this season and really enjoy the moments that come your way. When we are busy “doing” and not “being”, we often miss those times that would mean the most to us.
Find some time to laugh. Good belly laughs also put endorphins in the body, make you feel good, uplift you, and are contagious to your environment. Maybe your goal for this season will be to have lots of laughing moments. For Thanksgiving you could retell stories of funny moments that the family has experienced at the dinner table. I know that there is nothing better than having lots of laughs with family as we gather.
Take the time for your spiritual renewal, in whatever form that may be for you. Spiritual moments can be simple acts such as spending time in nature or reading your favorite spiritual book, as well as attending events in your spiritual communities. Spiritual renewal is part of keeping yourself balanced and centered.
Now, after you have figured out how to make sure you do your own self-care during this season, look at the other areas that have to be addressed. There are the financial concerns. With the financial constraints and concerns upon all of us, it is a great time to remember what really matters. Last January we had an article about “financial hang-overs” after the holiday season. This year, consider whether you want to have financial difficulties when January hits. It may be the perfect year to decide that the buying of gifts will be cut down and instead family connecting will be the focus. All the “things” we receive really do nothing for our emotions when it is all over. In fact, we can feel very empty. Remember now how that feels and make a commitment to stay within your means, give your family and friends only what you can afford and opt to give less if that is what your financial situation calls forth this year. You may decide as a family to give to another family by adopting a family and being their “Secret Santa” this year. It is always helpful to look at giving to others to get out of “self”. This is a nice role model and experience for children but as a parent, you have to set it in motion. Be willing to let your children have fewer “things” this year by teaching the art and fulfillment of giving to others. Help them experience the gifts received when they give.
And maybe the most important thing is to have no expectations. Don Miguel Ruiz says it best when he says “Be unattached to outcome”. (Ruiz, 1997) Go into this season with the idea that you will not be expecting the perfect season. Perhaps the perfect season will be one that you are able to roll with, enjoy the moments, looking at each day or event as a chance to just see what it may bring. Be realistic with those family gatherings, knowing that if certain family members bother you, they will probably still bother you during the holiday season. No one is really going to change just because the season is upon us. Know that it will be the same, but reframe it in your mind that it isn’t personal; it is their issue. You can still choose to have a great day, enjoying your moments, rolling with the punches, laughing as much as possible, being in the moment, and not missing those moments that will make the day a special and good day. After all, you will be refreshed with good sleep, exercise, nutrition, and time for you. So all you have to do is show up and enjoy your moments, regardless of what the rest of the world chooses to do with their moments. May you succeed in having a peace-filled, joyous season starting first within yourself.
Ruiz, D. M. (1997). The Four Agreements. Amber-Allen Publishing.Tags: considering how to feel after the holidays, how to manage the holidays wholesomely, self care during the holidays
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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