The holidays are an emotionally challenging time for everyone—whether you have a family, are single, are in a happy relationship, or going through a break-up or other difficult life event. Anxiety, sadness, stress, and old memories all seem amplified.
Here are some steps that everyone can take to avoid spiraling downward.
1. Assign your own meaning to the holidays.
It's easy to get sucked into the currents circling around us during the holidays. We feel pressured to buy useless stuff, eat things that don’t make us feel good, spend time with people we don’t really enjoy (or even worse, are people who are toxic).
Get clear on what you want your holiday season to be about. Do you want it to be about letting the people in your life know how much you care about them in a thoughtful, non-superficial way? Making a dinner that the whole family participates in instead of ordering a pre-made meal? Spending time volunteering to help those less fortunate?
Focus on figuring out what holiday experiences are meaningful to you personally instead of getting sucked into consumerism and superficial events that leave you feeling empty and depleted.
2. Make plans.
Don’t wait to be invited to do something, and if there's a dinner or a gathering that you have to attend, don’t make that obligation your entire holiday. Take control of your experience and embrace the spirit of the season in ways that are meaningful and fun to you. Some ideas: invite friends to go ice skating, go on a hayride, get tickets to a holiday show, maybe even do something silly like have a cookie baking night and ask people to bring various ingredients, etc.—things that are low-pressure and will make for fun experiences and great memories. Remember that other people may be having a tough time this holiday season too, and your invitation will mean a lot to them.
3. Separate yourself from the past.
Most people are more moody and irritable during the holidays. Feelings that we're usually good at keeping under control become amplified. As a result, we bury ourselves in food, alcohol, and stressful experiences. If you feel slightly off during the holiday season, instead of ignoring it, explore why. Is it a function of old pain? If so, what can you do to resolve that so that you can feel the magic of the holiday season with a clear heart, the way you deserve to?
4 Control your body and brain chemistry.
Sugar, processed foods, gluten, alcohol, etc ... most of the foods we consume this time of year cause disruption to our body function, including brain chemistry and energy levels. This can be especially detrimental during a time when you may already feeling a little bit off.
Don’t deprive yourself—participate in the festivities! Indulge and enjoy. But make a plan to keep yourself balanced by doing things like: