By Guest Blogger Juan Santos M.S., CRC, LCMHC
The holidays are right around the corner and to be honest it can be a mixture of emotions. For some, the holidays are a reminder of past challenges, conflict in the family, or sadness connected to missing loved ones. For others, the holidays mark traditions and a special occasion of people coming together.
As you walk into the holidays of 2021, I want to encourage you to give yourself a gift. The gift of generosity. We as a community have lived through a pandemic that continues to impact us.
This holiday season give yourself the kindness of using the tools below to make best out of the holidays.
1. Approaching The Holidays with Mindfulness
During the holidays it can be easy to find yourself knee deep in your phone answering work emails all while sitting across from a lovely family member you haven’t seen in too long. It’s important to give yourself space to create a commitment that you can stick to. A commitment that connects to what you need to unplug from during the holiday season so that you are able to be present versus a body in a room.
Being present is a practice found in mindfulness.
I find it helpful to create a list of items or ways that we want to unplug in order to be present. Below are a few examples that you can utilize as you build strength in making the best of the holidays.
- Create an automatic reply for your email. This way people know that you are not available.
- If you have to work, develop a fixed space for it. For instance, work only takes place from 2 to 4 PM.
- Remove yourself from the so tempting social media and news applications. The purpose of this is to help you be present when you are interacting with others.
Remember, mindfulness is the act of removing distractions and focusing on what is in front of you. This holiday season, do just that.
2. Approaching The Holidays with A Smile
The holidays are often a time that people feel pressured to do certain activities just because it’s simply what has been done for years. My friends, this is the perfect recipe to make something not fun.
This holiday season, I want you to take time to focus on your definition of what a fun holiday looks like. I remember years back, my wife and I decided to start our Turkey Day with a morning hike. This gave us space to enjoy nature, reset, and connect with each other. For us, the nature walk is our definition of fun.
Below are a few ways to give the holidays a touch of fun:
- Create your own holiday bucket list.
- Spend time supporting a local non-profit.
- Grab a journal and document your holiday journey.
- Complete an advent calendar.
- Create a handmade gift.
- Take a mini trip in the city to a new place.
- Bake cookies or something delicious.
3. Approaching The Holidays with Purpose
The title of this reading is, making the best of the holidays. With that in my, it’s important to consider the purpose. What is the purpose of your holiday season? For guidance, I’ll share a little bit of mine.
The purpose of my holiday season is to connect with myself and those around me. To slow down and find ways to express gratitude. I do this by making commitments to see certain peers, engaging in self-care practices, and disconnecting from work. Having purpose gives us a clear plan of action that we can carry through the holiday season. Without it, people often find themselves in the midst of the holidays engaging in all sorts of engagements. Some feel enjoyable while others can leave one wanting to pull their hair out. We see this in classic Hallmark and related holiday films.
- Pretending you are enjoying a conversation when in reality, you want to shout “shut-up!”
- Driving to seven different locations to eat a holiday meal. All while pretending that you are not full.
- Cleaning the house as if Queen Elizabeth is coming.
Hopefully, some of those made you laugh.
My friends, this is your holiday season. What purpose do you want to highlight?
As you walk away from this reading, I hope that you clarity and a few nuggets that can support your journey to making the best of the holidays.
Read Juan’s archived blog, “Getting Along with Family During the Holidays” here.
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