Pumpkin pie and turkey dinner. Shopping and regifiting. Getting together with family and friends. No matter what your traditions, the holiday season is almost here. For some, it’s a favorite time of year filled with joy and laughter. For others it’s unwanted encounters, financial pressure, and even depression. But for most of us, it’s a mixed bag full of a little bit of everything. Here are some key tips to make the most of this holiday season.
Choose your holiday activities purposefully. Just because you’ve always done it doesn’t mean you have to always do it. If gathering with a certain group of people is uncomfortable or causes anxiety, consider changing up your holiday routine. Have dinner with one group and dessert with another. For example, drop in for a particular part of the night to give your holiday greetings and then move along to another activity or event.
Care for yourself. Take some time for quiet relaxation before going out or hosting a holiday party. Take a bath, read a book, get a massage. Get plenty of sleep to wake up feeling rested and ready for whatever comes your way.
Limit alcohol consumption to prevent next morning after-effects. And by “morning-after effects” I mean regretting telling your in-laws how you really feel, taking a “selfie” that is not of your face, or winning the “Most Wild at the Office Party” award. Of course it’s always fun to have a glass of wine or two, but knowing your limits will prevent any embarrassing behavior that you will be held accountable for at a later time.
Establish a budget and stick with it. Gifts, parties and holiday wardrobes can all add up quickly. Financial planning before the holidays will prevent financial headaches after the holidays.
Laugh — a lot. If the food burns, if someone is particularly loud and obnoxious or if plans don’t go as planned, there is really only one thing to do: smile and laugh it off! The holidays only come but once a year so do your best to take things lightly and make the best of it.
Consider the gap between action and reaction; plan how you will react. Given what I just said above, let’s be real: most of us already know what we are walking into at a family holiday event. Most people don’t change that drastically from one year to the next unless they have been actively working on themselves. With that said, it leaves the burden of reaction on you. It is within your power to expect certain behaviors from certain people and choose in advance how you will react. If the person doesn’t do as expected, great! But if they do, you are prepared to avoid any major fallout.
Leave ample time if travel is a part of your holiday plan. Weather and unforeseen circumstances can wreak havoc on our travel plans and cause chaos and disappointment. When booking flights or traveling long distances, give yourself enough time to create a comfortable cushion that will allow you to arrive on time, even if something unexpected comes up.
Ask for help when you need it. Whether it is help with cooking and cleaning, or mental and emotional support, don’t go it alone. Ask family and friends to chip in and help. If the holidays are an emotional time for you, either because you have lost someone special that you miss or it is a particular trigger for you, speak with a professional who can offer you support. Don’t wait until it is too late. You deserve to have the support and love that you need during this time of year, and all other times as well.
Prioritize. Make a list of the most important things to do or experience this holiday season and get started early. Knowing what is most important to you will enable you to sail through the season without last-minute pressures and stresses and will connect you to a sense of joy that the holidays can bring.
Focus on gratitude this holiday season. Each of us goes through so much on this roller coaster of life. Take a moment to reflect on the idea that we are lucky to be here on Earth to experience yet another holiday season.
Happy New Year!
Mia Adler Ozair is a clinically licensed psychotherapist with a private practice in Los Angeles, California. In addition to her 10-plus years of experience as a therapist, she has over 20 years of expertise in the worlds of education, non-profit organizations and public speaking. She is a professional writer who recently released “Insider’s Secrets: How to Choose an Exceptional Therapist (and How to Avoid the Bad Ones).” For more information please visit www.miaadlerozair.com.