If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I recently posted some thoughts about December and it’s ups and downs.
More than any time of the year, expectations run high and emotional triggers seem to be lie in wait all around us. There’s shopping and decorating and socializing and it’s all supposed to go according to schedule and be everything that you want it to be.
You know. Like the holidays in the magazines and on television.
Except that in real life that doesn’t happen.
And it’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay.
It’s just what life is.
Sometimes our own expectations of the holidays can make our frustrations feel sharper. We have a mental picture of how things ought to be yet when we look around that’s not what is happening.
Put another way, December is a lot to handle.
According to Mental Health America, several factors contribute to the craziness we feel during the holiday season: fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over commercialization, financial constraints and the inability to celebrate the holidays with one’s family and friends.
There’s a time and place to push yourself but maybe this holiday season it’s not the year to push yourself.
Maybe you are still processing the loss of a loved one, or you or your spouse or partner got laid off from a job.
Maybe you or someone you know is trying to figure out how to deal with a new health diagnosis and that has changed the way your holiday feels.
Maybe you are a caregiver and you feel plain stressed out from being responsible for the health of another person.
Maybe you are watching your pennies and know that your budget is about to change.
Maybe all of the holiday things that you once thought were important no longer hold any meaning for you and you are starting to think you might want to give them away.
All of these things are a part of daily life and then when you throw in the excitement of Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, it heightens the atmosphere for everything around you to be sparkling and holiday like.
There can be a yearning for perfection and as we all know, but may not want to admit, perfection does not exist.
This year, there is also the added factor of the constant drumbeat of political divisiveness. People are looking for some relief; some comfort and joy this holiday season for it is not easy to escape the ongoing debate of today’s politics.
This December, maybe it’s time to give yourself the gift of taking things at your own pace, perhaps changing up the way your celebrate your holiday. Paring down the glitter and focusing on the essence of the holiday season.
Taking December one day at a time is working well for me this year. I still haven’t put up a Christmas tree and I haven’t decided if I am going to put one up at all.
Instead of tackling the whole schebang of Christmas decorations stored in the attic and bringing them all downstairs at once, this year I am finding quiet time and putting things up when I feel like it. I placed some decorations on the fireplace mantel last weekend and I hung my beautiful wreath of greens with a big plaid ribbon on the front door. Then I found some gold and silver decorations from last year and fooled around and arranged them in a small stone urn until I liked the way they looked.
Maybe I’ll do some more decorating tonight or this weekend. Or maybe not.
Decide what is important to you this holiday season. Just because I changed things up this year doesn’t mean I can’t add things back next year.
Breaking holiday rituals into smaller more manageable tasks may be just the thing to help you reduce holiday stress-o-rama.
Whatever you decide to do, here’s wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Holiday Season!!