How to Survive (or Even Enjoy!) the Holiday Season

I hope I’m catching you before you are fully immersed in a busy holiday season. If you’re already in the mix, I want you to pump the brakes. This can be a month filled with stuff you may not realize is clutter — things like gift swap invitations, holiday gatherings, or grief — and it can quickly clog up your time, your mind, and your heart.

I want you to enjoy as much of this time as possible, in your own way, so I thought I’d share a few things I do to give you some ideas.

First, before I get swallowed up by the holiday hubbub, I like to reflect on what I love about this time of year and how I can make those things a priority. With a finite amount of time, money, and energy, I want to allot these precious commodities to what matters most and keep them away from what doesn’t.

Some things on my Must Do list during the holiday season are:

  • Take a drive to see Christmas lights
  • Allow plenty of time to choose thoughtful gifts
  • Attend the local holiday stroll through beautifully-decorated shops and markets
  • Find someplace to listen to Christmas carolers
  • Get together with friends who can be both silly and deep
  • Create Blessings Bags with my family for those suffering from homelessness
  • Support small businesses over big box stores

Things on my Won’t Do list are:

  • Accept invitations out of guilt or obligation
  • Spend time with Negative Nellies
  • Go to a mall
  • Shop on Thanksgiving or Black Friday
  • Buy meaningless presents
  • Get caught up in the consumerism/sale mentality and overspend

Second, to accomplish this, I need to be as present (pun intended!) as possible and be careful to not make any decisions in haste. By practicing the power of the pause, I have a much better chance of not getting locked into something I don’t want to attend or have to worry about canceling at a later date.

Instead of avoiding conflict, I encourage you to avoid regret.

So how do you say no with grace? Depending on the person or situation, there are a couple of ways you can go about it. First, determine if a simple decline will do. This approach is good for those outside of your inner circle, but can also work for those close to you as well.

Something like:

“I’m not able to attend, but thank you for thinking of me.”

Short, sweet, and to the point. You don’t want to over-explain otherwise you give the other person something to debate.

For example, if you say, “Oh I can’t. I have to do my baking that night,” they could respond with, “Well, can’t you get your baking done ahead of time so you can come?”

Then the tennis match begins. Back and forth, and back and forth.

Now if it’s someone who might need a bit more, such as a close family member or friend, then you can consider being fully transparent.

Something like:

“I’m being really conscious of not overfilling my calendar this year so I can enjoy the holidays instead of rush through them so I’ve decided to commit to fewer invitations this year. I hope you understand.”

Still gracious and beautifully honest.

And that is all you are responsible for. How the other person receives your answer is theirs to manage. The only approval you need is yours.

Finally, I stay in touch with my emotions as much as possible. If I’m feeling particularly sad or I want to isolate, I give myself permission to do so.

If I’m feeling lonely or stressed, I feel those, too. After all, feelings aren’t to be figured out or fixed. They’re to be felt.

So this week, make a list of your own “musts” and “mustn’ts.” The season goes by so quickly, but with some advanced planning, you can make this a time filled with memories and self-care.

Because you deserve to spend your time — holidays or otherwise — just as you want.

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