How To Diffuse The Pressure Of The Holiday Season
I secretly hate the holidays.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the holiday season – all of the lights and decorations, the cheesy music, the countless festivities and terrible sweaters – but I hate the actual days themselves; Thanksgiving and Christmas, in particular, when the pressure of what I imagine my family life, personal life, and social life, don’t, well, let’s just use the word align.
But here is the truth: Each and every holiday (especially Valentine’s Day) is actually just a regular day to which we randomly ascribed a series of rituals and traditions.
Our minds tell us that if we are alone on the holidays, or if we don’t throw lavish parties with fancy silverware, tablecloth, and candelabras, or if we buy pies from the drugstore instead of baking them from scratch like Martha Steward, that we are bad people, and we certainly don’t meet society’s requirements of what it means to be a successful person. If we hold these thoughts as true, if we find ourselves in less than ideal holiday circumstances – alone, or worse still, forced to celebrate with people whom we are not so fond of – we can find ourselves feeling negative emotions. We can judge ourselves harshly for not experiencing a holiday that matches those of a greeting card or a cheesy movie on prime time.
So here’s how we can diffuse the pressure:
Don’t Buy Into the Hype
I’m sure there are people, somewhere, making toasts with crystal goblets and kissing under the mistletoe, but the truth is that most people have dysfunctional families, and there are tons of single people who don’t have a partner with whom to match their ugly Christmas sweaters or go caroling with. Very few people I know are living picture-perfect lives.
Be Appreciative Every Day
The concept of appreciating our friends on family on certain days doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. If we make time for the people we love on a regular basis and express appreciation and love, we shouldn’t feel pressured to do so on one particular day.
Don’t Forget to Gift Yourself
Oftentimes, the holidays can be stressful because we try so hard to please others: throwing parties, buying gifts, attending get-togethers, etc. It’s important to remember to take time for ourselves, to treat ourselves to something special, to rest, and eat healthy food.
Self-love during the holidays might mean saying no to an invitation, or buying a less expensive gift for someone to maintain a budget. We can only give to others after we have given to ourselves. The holidays are not about giving so much that we feel diminished or put out. The holiday season can be a beautiful time. It can be a time to cherish loved ones and rejoice in life and love. Still, the holidays are just made-up days packaged by the world and dressed in bows and tinsel.
If we can hold this truth in in our minds, then we can maintain our sense of peace and sanity.
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