12 Ways to Keep Sane During the Holidays
2020 has been a year like no other and with the fast approaching holidays, it can feel overwhelming, stressful, and even depressing.
For many of us, we have been grappling with trying to gain our footing in a year that has been riddled with unsteadiness, misinformation, political discord, and multiple shutdowns. There's nothing we’d love more than to feel a sense of “normalcy”.
Holidays themselves can trigger a number of emotions, coupling that with the year we’ve had, and one may be weary of participating.
On the other hand, it’s possible to enjoy this holiday season, and even create new traditions resulting in long-lasting memories. And I’d like to offer some ways to get through this holidays season that allows you to do just that.
1. Plan in Advance – How do you want your holidays to feel? If you're desiring a peaceful, calmer, more joyful holiday season, then scheduling your week(s) out ahead of time is ESSENTIAL. You don't want to be over extend yourself and leaving no room for unexpected things to pop up. Lack of planning creates stress and anxiety.
2. Be Mindful for Goodness Sakes - Set a Budget – write out all your expected costs ahead of time, and commit to staying within your means. This includes your emotional budget as well. Being mindful of where you’re spending your emotional time, and if your return on emotional investment is benefiting you or not. At the end of the day/week are you feeling more joy or more stress?
3. Stock up on Sanity Savers – Make a list of self-care treatments that help you stay calm, relaxed, and more peaceful. It's not enough to write a list out, you MUST implement these treatments to carry you through your days. Hint: You can do this year-round; it's good for your health.
4. Reel in Expectations – Repeat after me, “There is no such thing as a “perfect” holiday”. Gifts may get lost, someone might say something inappropriate, some of the food might get cold before dinner, and someone may cancel last minute…..its ok! Note: Expectations are buzz kills.
5. Say “YES” to the things you truly want to participate in, and say “no” to the things that drain your energy. Saying “yes” to things you don’t want to do can lead to added stress, depression, anxiety, resentment, and a whole lot of “no fun!".
6. Keep a Meltdown Journal – it’s the holidays and it’s been a year of COVID, misinformation, political discord, and a whole lot of uncertainty going on---there’s a fair chance of some meltdown moments happening. Writing it down in your journal will serve far better than blasting it on social media. It's easy to get caught up in the moment, but when you take the time to write it all out, you have an opportunity to pick up familiar patterns of how you react in certain situations. Example; Were you hungry, tired, lonely or stressed just before the meltdown occurred?
7. Keep Your Healthy Habits – Be mindful of your food…..too much holiday cheer and sugar can add to heightened stress levels causing heighted anxiety, depression, and mental and emotional fatigue. Also, be mindful of your sleep schedule. Lack of sleep can create brain fog, irritability, and an inability to make rational decisions. Be sure and carve out time for physical movement which will help with those excess holiday treats, help with sleep, and definitely clear your head. Best way to get through is feed your mind (motivational/inspirational) 30 minutes a day and physical movement at least 30 minutes a day.
8. Throw Guilt Out the Door – Because of everything that has gone on this year, you may be feeling off for the holidays or feeling guilty because you can’t give the kids what they want. I encourage you to throw that guilt thinking out the door. We are all doing the best we can. It’s also a great opportunity to remember what matters. Is it only about gifts? What gifts could you teach your children about thriving emotionally through difficult times? Those are the gifts that will last a lifetime.
9. Own Your Inner Grinch – If you’re feeling cranky because it seems like you’re always giving more than you’re receiving or vice versa, then call a truce on personal gift-giving. I did this years ago with my family. We limit to getting a little something for the kids, but no longer for adults. Having that conversation was a little scary because of not knowing how it would be received, but it turned out to be a relief by all involved. Note: Spending time with those you love far outweighs the stress of gift giving.
10. Break up with Tradition – If you’re doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different outcome, you’re going to feel nuttier than a fruitcake. Why do we do this to ourselves? Maybe this year you’re struggling, and in the past you just suffered through. Maybe this year you reach for help….for support. With physical distancing being of importance, maybe this is the year that you do drive by deliveries to friends and family of your holiday treats. As easy as it is to track Santa online, we too can connect with others via Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp, etc., and celebrate.
11. Don’t Play in any Reindeer Games – In the old classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer movie Rudolph was teased for being different, and it made him feel bad about himself. This same concept happens today, but I want to point it out from a different perspective. People like to share their celebrations, their wins, their achievements, their joy on social media, and these shares can be triggering for someone who doesn’t feel their life represents the same. Give yourself permission to disengage from social media if seeing people’s holiday pictures are going to feel triggering. Find other ways to spend your day……connecting with others, journaling, physical movement, helping others, reading or listening to uplifting messages, DANCING---shaking your bum literally changes your mood. Hint: It's all about the Asstitude (Listen to our Giving & Receiving episode on 12/7/2020).
12. Greatest Gift of All - GRATITUDE
Make it a daily practice to FEEL gratitude first thing in the morning, and again at night before you go to sleep. It's not enough to just say the words, "I'm grateful for this day or my work or my family, etc." No, it's essential to FEEL grateful. One of the best ways to do that is to remember a time or two, (or more) when you FELT great about an achievement, or an event that happened in your life, or how someone made you feel appreciated and valued. This FEELING of gratitude will elevate your state of mind.
These current conditions WILL pass, and in the meantime it’s our responsibility to be kind, loving and compassionate to ourselves, and to remember to reach out for support if need be.
Until next time,
Practical Psychologist & Mindset Coach - Notably known as the Inner Critic Tamer