This is the time of year so many of us enjoy and look forward to.
Instead of good cheer and relaxing times, though, many of us become stressed and overwhelmed by the expectations of having the perfect Christmas — one of those greeting-card holidays.
What is important at this time of year is to remember to enjoy ourselves: To reconnect with loved ones, to take the time to have conversations and have fun. Things we may have forgotten to do during the year.
Remember, this season is about focusing on relationships: the quality time we can spend with one another; the sharing and the caring we can give to one another.
It is also a time for reflection, a time to take stock of our lives over the past year. As John Lennon wrote, “And so this is Christmas / and what have we done / another year over.”
How do you fare in your assessment of the past year? What are you satisfied with? What would you like to improve?
Some tips for the holiday season:
- Take breaks throughout the week. Every hour do a little something that lifts your spirits. Make a cup of hot chocolate; listen to some holiday music.
- Buy a gift for a homeless child or adult and take it to a shelter.
- Try to notice when you become overwhelmed and take a beat. Say to yourself, “Do I really want to make myself upset over this situation? Or can I bring some compassion and patience to others and myself, and in turn reduce the stress I’m feeling in this moment?”
- Go for a walk in the park.
- Take a drive with your family and go and look at the Christmas decorations and lights around town.
- Stay up and watch a good Christmas movie such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” or a classic such as “Gone With the Wind.”
- Try not to isolate; be around friends and relatives.
- Go to your local Christmas Eve midnight carol service or local temple or mosque where a sharing of peace and love is a central theme.
‘Tis the season to be jolly, so have yourself a merry little yuletide, a beautiful holiday and be ready for a good year ahead.
And as Tiny Tim Cratchit said in the classic “A Christmas Carol”:
God bless us, every one!
More tips for the holiday season
- A time for celebration, reflection, renewal
- ‘Tis the season for the little things
- Spending the holidays with your inner child
- New Year’s resolutions you can keep
Psychotherapy video: Dr. Katrina Wood talks about the holidays and the great expectations that go with them. “You really have to work very hard not to personalize” disappointments brought on by family and friends, she says. With Dr. K is Dr. Stephen Feldman, MFT