It doesn’t feel like Christmas to me at all this year. I mean I can’t believe it’s actually already December. Part of the reason I feel this way is that it’s sunny and hot here in Peru. In the past, living in NYC, leaving the house would require bundling up in a coat, scarf and gloves to simply brave the freezing cold. And lately, when I am at the local Starbucks working and I hear “Let it snow, let it snow” or some song about a wintery wonderland, it makes me laugh. Usually because in that moment, I am sitting on the patio enjoying the sun.
But it’s more than just the weather, it’s also being in a different place.
Everything just feels a bit different for me right now. It’s the place and, of course it’s the fact that my mom isn’t here. Christmas was her absolute FAVORITE time of year. She went all out on decorating the house. She loved the spiritual side of Christmas, gift giving, baking, cooking, celebrating and everything else that comes with it. So maybe in some way it feels a little less this year since she isn’t here. This is the first year experiencing the holidays without her in this world.
I don’t say that in such a way to be sad or depressing, but more in a way of acknowledging what Christmas meant to her. My hope that in doing so it serves as a motivation for me to create my own, new Christmas experience. I would rather try to focus on what I have instead of what is missing, gone or no longer a part of my life, because the reality is that I have so much, much more than many others.
But the holidays aren’t always easy.
In many ways, the holidays are an amazing time of year!! There are lots of special times you share with family and friends. There are holiday decorations up everywhere. People in general, are more kind, giving and happy. At least that is how I feel most of the time. But, this year I also have more of an understanding of why the holidays are a struggle for others or why it might not be the happiest time of the year for everyone. I believe it can feel extremely isolating when everyone around you is having fun and have people to spend time with and you don’t.
And also, while the holidays are mostly filled with good things, there is also a level of stress that comes with it as well. All the shopping that needs to be done, the meals and parties to plan, the parties to attend while at the same time going about your regular schedule of work and family responsibilities.
These two thoughts led me to consider how to make the holidays healthier and better for myself and for those around me this year.
So, what are some things that you can do in this month to make coping just a bit easier for yourself and others?
Look for shortcuts
These may be simple things you can implement in the short-term to help save you some time with your regular responsibilities. Some ideas to consider:
- Enroll in a meal planning service such as Easy Cookin‘, that will help you save time with planning meals.
- Use an online grocery delivery service such as Amazon Fresh for a period of time. Yes, you do need to have Amazon Prime and there’s a subscription fee, but consider that your gift to yourself for the holidays. And if you already have Prime there is a 30-day free offer for Amazon Fresh, and if not, it’s only $14.99 and you can cancel when you no longer need it since it doesn’t require a long-term commitment.
- Hire some help to clean the house
- Use a babysitter to watch the kids for a bit so you can focus on getting chores or cooking done.
Consider different options for your holiday party this year
If you’re hosting a party or meal this year. Consider having a potluck party instead of cooking everything yourself. This can be lots of fun and takes some of the pressure off you to get everything ready. Another option here which is costly but may be worth it, is to consider hiring a caterer for your event. Some places may even offer services where they just deliver all the food ready to go and you serve it. Or maybe you can save even more, and offer to pick up all the food they prepare.
Take time out to pause
I just read this article recently about how we are so connected all the time. All our devices, tvs, computers, games, phones and all the other many electronic gadgets we use, keep our brains engaged and active all the time. The article pointed out that our brains need time to just wander and they can’t do that when we are always connected to our devices. So take a few minutes to just unplug and daydream. Your brain needs this time and it may allow you to resume your tasks with a clearer and calmer perspective.
Being kinder to those we know as well as to strangers, may be the most important thing that you can do this holiday season or even throughout the year. You never know what another person is even dealing with or going through and their rudeness or unkindness to you likely comes from a place of deep pain. And while it’s no excuse, you can choose to let it go rather than react and that is your gift to the other person.[bctt tweet=”Being kinder to those we know as well as to strangers, may be the most important thing that you can do this holiday season or even throughout the year. ” username=”Lyn_Croyle”]
I think this is the number one thing that you can do to stay grounded this holiday season. You can even make it something that you add to your daily routine this month. It takes just a few minutes to sit down at the start or end of the day to jot down one thing you are thankful for. Or if you can even make it a family thing. Setup a jar somewhere in the house and have everyone write down one thing they are thankful for each day. Then you can watch that jar fill up throughout the month. A visual confirmation of all the things you have to be grateful for.
Somehow, this process of recognizing gratitude even when things are tough, brings about some lightness. There is something in being thankful that makes it a bit easier. For me, while I am super sad that my mom isn’t here for Christmas this year, I am unbelievably grateful for all the holidays I spent with her these past few years and I recognize that my grief comes from a place of deep love and that is something super powerful.
Find ways to be kind to yourself. I feel like most of the time we are our own harshest critic. It may be as simple as allowing yourself to not feel guilty about enjoying your favorite holiday foods. Or maybe it’s a pedicure, manicure or even spa day for yourself. Or having a coffee alone and taking some time away from the family for a bit and allow yourself a few moments of peace and quiet. It brings to mind the quote, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Taking care of ourselves and recognizing that this is a necessity enables us to take better care of those around us.
Take care of your health
Taking care of your health relates to eating, thinking, sleeping and moving throughout each day. Eat balanced meals when you can. Make this a goal for every meal, but it may be easier on the days that you don’t have events to host or attend. The best meals include a healthy protein, carbohydrate and fat. Also, starting off the day with a solid, healthy breakfast provides you with the proper fuel to start your day.
Also, keeping up with a regular exercise routine or simply moving more each day improves your sense of well-being, energy level and sleep. Speaking of sleep, it’s important to make sure that you are getting enough sleep each night. Look for strategies to improve your sleep. For me, I have recently begun turning off my phone and making sure that my room is adequately dark at night and it has helped tremendously. When I get a good night’s sleep, I am much better able to function each day and it is easier to manage stress and my emotions.
Honor your grief, sadness or pain
Don’t force it if you aren’t feeling it. I truly believe that in order to heal, it’s important to honor whatever is hurting you. You can’t just stuff it down and expect it to just go away. You have to go through it, experience it, feel it. If you need to cry, do it. If you need to yell, do it (but hopefully not at another person).
Everyone has a different experience with the difficulties of life, but find what works for you and allow it to happen. For me, in the instances where I honor my sadness and say “I see you”, it’s power seems to eventually diminish and I can move on.
Ask for help
You may find this one hard, I know I do. For me, I don’t want to burden someone else with my troubles or to annoy someone by asking for help. But I am beginning to recognize and accept that the people in our lives who love and care about us are often wiling to do this for us, just as we would be willing to do it for them. So ask for help. It’s ok to do it. At times it may even mean seeking professional help from a counselor of some sort, or it may mean just seeking out a close friend to just listen and hold space for you. Having someone to help you through the difficult times or to offer you some assistance will make things easier for certain.
Be present and allow yourself to enjoy the time
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I often get caught up in the perfection of everything. So much so that I am frustrated or angry when things don’t go that way. And most of the time let’s be honest, they don’t go that way. It’s better to embrace the imperfection and allow the experience to be a positive one, than to be so tied up in it being perfect. I also know that the best gift you or I can give any person in our life we care about, is our presence. To be fully committed and attentive to the moments we spend with them. Those are the moments that really matter.
These are the strategies I will be using for the next month or so as I navigate the holiday season. I hope you find some inspiration in them, and may even be able to implement a few and make the holidays a more pleasant and less stressful time. I would love to hear what you are doing to make the holidays great this year. You can comment here on the blog or send me a message through the contact me page on the website.
Wishing everyone a safe, wonderful and lovely holiday season!!