Are you surviving the holidays? Are you handling the stress? Are you holding up?

Happy family enjoying the Christmas holiday

Sometimes we talk so much about the
negative aspects of the holidays-and how to make it through them-that we forget to embrace the joys of the season. When the holidays become a chore, it’s time to rethink your approach. Maybe you need to step back a bit and asses how you’re feeling about family get-togethers, office parties, and all the activities that go with this festive time of year. Instead of surviving, maybe you need to think about how you can thrive.

 

Here are five tips to help you get the most out of the season:

1) Banish the negative self-talk

It’s really easy to slide into this when you have so much to do and can’t possibly get it all done to the level of perfection you would like. It’s hard to keep from self-criticism when you’re trying desperately not to gain weight, not to drink too much eggnog or lose your temper at Uncle Harold’s inane political rants. You’ve spent too much money on gifts, but you haven’t bought an equal amount for everyone on your list. When you hear your inner voice putting yourself down, stop and take notice. Remember all the good things you’ve done. All the effort you’ve made regardless of outcome. Give yourself a well-deserved metaphorical pat on your back.

2) Quit comparing yourself to others

There will always be people who can do whatever you’re trying to do better. And there will always be those who don’t measure up to your achievements. Either way, comparisons aren’t helpful. What is helpful is to accept yourself and your efforts. You went to the trouble to bake your family cookies for the holiday. They may be a little burnt around the edges, but that shouldn’t negate all the love you put into baking them. Be kind to yourself. Lighten up. Give yourself a break. A few burnt cookies aren’t going to spoil anyone’s holiday.

3) Don’t forget to get physical

It’s amazing what a little physical exercise can do. Whether you workout at the gym or practice yoga or whatever your chosen exercise is, make sure you keep it up during the holidays. Physical exercise is a proven way to keep yourself feeling tip top. And no matter what the temperature, bundle up and get outside. Take a walk on a sunny day and get a little Vitamin D. It can make a huge difference in your energy and your mood.

4) Minimize contact with people who bring you down

You know who they are. The people who make you feel bad about yourself. The people who suck your energy and make you feel spent. The people who pretend to be supportive, but really have their own agendas and don’t care about yours. Be judicious. You only have so much time and energy. Spend them on true friends who buoy you up and make you feel good.

5) Appreciate the small things

Even when you are in the most hectic situations, take time out to notice positive things. The way Aunt Jenny tries to bring your taciturn cousin into the conversation. The effort your dad took in festooning the porch in garlands. The way the candlelight softens the room. When you are with family and friends, take time to notice the small things. Take a breath. Then make a mental note to enjoy the moment you’re in, just as it is.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.