Yikes! The holiday season is upon us – how did that happen and where did the year go? Just when you began to enjoy the cooler nights and beauty of the leaves changing colors, the reality of the pending season kicks in. Your hair gets grayer with the anticipation of the stress associated with the season, your calendar begins to burst with obligations and you are literally walking in circles in the kitchen trying to figure out what to tackle next on your never-ending “to do” list.
At this moment, how decadent would it be to put all of that behind you and climb into a warm bath with beautiful fragrances, soothing bubbles and truly have the ability to turn off your brain from thinking and your heart from hurting? Or better yet, erase the emotional strain of the past year associated with losing a loved one, learning of yet another friend or family member diagnosed with an illness or the financial constraints causing greater anxiety of the pending season.
What if you vow for this year’s holiday season to be different? What if you welcome the holiday season on your terms and embrace the season for you? Whether you are in the tub or sitting on a chair, close your eyes, sit back and envision the holidays ahead – how would you define the next few months? Who would you spend time with? What is best for you and your family?
To embrace the holidays means to look at the season in an atypical fashion. For every stressor that keeps you awake at night, think of how the situation can be recalculated or rearranged to eliminate the anxiety:
If traveling to family members is stressful because of the time commitment, large crowds and added expense of the season, travel at a different time of the year.
If you are known for bringing homemade cookies to an event and you just can’t find time to bake them this year, purchase cookies from your favorite store and arrange them with love on your special serving tray.
If holiday gift exchange is out of your comfort zone for whatever reason, you can still attend the event yet opt out of the gift giving.
If attending a party alone makes you feel uncomfortable, skip the party and suggest a time when you can spend quieter, one-on-one time with the host.
If decorating your house with holiday adornments is taxing on your time or you are just not in the mood, omit them for this year and attend a tree lighting ceremony in your community.
If you feel the void of a loved one who has passed or is ill, create a new tradition with friends and family to help avoid the emptiness.
If you don’t want to send holiday cards to friends and family, opt out this year – its okay.
Changing your outlook on the season is the best way to embrace the joys that are often overlooked. Gather those around you who know you the best and create new, exciting and memorable moments together. Savor the break from a normal routine – sleep in, cook a new and exciting meal, spend quality time with those who matter most, play a board game, assemble a puzzle and embrace the holidays on your own terms.
Rachel Kodanaz is an author, speaker and consultant who provides encouragement to those who are suffering a loss or setback. She is the author of Living with Loss, One Day at a Time.