‘Tis the season to be jolly…is it really?

‘Tis the season to be jolly…is it really?
December 21, 2017

It’s the holiday season. The lights are twinkling, children seem happier and mankind rejoices. The world is a wonderful place this time of year. Peace on earth and goodwill to all.

Did you just roll your eyes? I did. For most of us, the holidays are nice, but they also come with extra anxiety, stress and demands for our time that can sometimes push us to our breaking point.

You can wax poetic about the true meaning of Christmas while visions of sugarplums dance in your head, but if we get honest, a huge majority is trying to cope without becoming full-blown alcoholics. Here are some ideas that I’ve shared with my already extremely busy clientele that help make this time of year a little bit more jolly:

Saying ‘No’ is OK – This time of year usually leads to a lot of invitations to parties and other events. Prioritize the invites and recognize that with almost all of them, you’re under no actual obligation to attend. If you don’t have time to run a booth at the church holiday craft fair, attend The Nutcracker with your friends, man the Salvation Army bucket for a few hours, go to your spouse’s best friend’s holiday party and still get your shopping and your regular life done, it’s OK. The simple response is, “Thank you, but I’ve already made a commitment.” Sometimes a hot bath and curling up with a good book is the best commitment to make this time of year. It’s OK to spend an evening watching It’s a Wonderful Life…or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Remember, they are your family, not your friends – Yes, your uncle has political views that belong in the 1930s. Your mother is going to tell a lot of stories that go nowhere, which isn’t as bad as your father, who is telling stories that don’t belong at the dinner table. Your nephew dresses like a homeless person and your niece suddenly uses profanity in every sentence. You feel like you’re more in a waiting room at a therapist’s office than at the holiday dinner you remember of your youth. The truth is, it’s always been like that – and it’s true about every family, not just yours. We don’t get to decide who is in our family, like we do our social circle, but when push comes to shove, your family are the people who will stick by your side for the rest of your life, warts and all.

Relax, gift cards are fine – Turn off Martha Stewart and those cheesy Christmas movies that all end with the sad woman returning to her hometown as a single parent only to fall in love with her high school sweetheart. Don’t fall prey to the belief that presents must be deeply meaningful or handcrafted to have a real impact. That’s not true. Your life is hectic and it’s OK if you don’t have time for arts and crafts. In reality, most people I know would rather have $25 to spend at Amazon than a birdhouse you built out of popsicle sticks.

It’s not a competition – You have enough on your plate already. You don’t need to have the house with the nicest Christmas lights in the neighborhood. You don’t have to make sure your child brings the best gift to their teacher. It doesn’t matter if your brother outspends you on buying your parents their presents. This Christmas doesn’t have to be more magical than any other. You’re not going to win the contest because there is no contest. Don’t create them in your head.

Do something nice for a stranger – This can be as simple as dropping off old clothes at Goodwill or giving the guy on the median with the cardboard sign a couple of dollars. Helping other people, even if you don’t know them and will never know the end-game of your altruism is a good thing. It doesn’t matter who gets your old jeans or what the guy does with the money. You’re being part of the solution, and that will give you at least a moment to feel good and escape the stress and anxiety of this time of year.

This too shall pass – Whatever is making you dread this time of year, understand that it’s natural. Societally and culturally, we have a lot to live up to in December. Recognize you’re not alone because we’re all going through it. Hold on. January 2 is just around the corner and you’ll have 11 months to recharge your batteries for next year.

Have a great Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, Bodhi Day, Christmas Eve, Festivus, Pancha Ganapati, Yuletide, Chalica, and/or New Year’s Day…no wonder we all feel so busy!



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Posted in Healthy Tricks by Mari Pizarro | Tags: ,