By Lauren Berger, MSW, RSW
Ahh, the holidays. Remember when the month of December symbolized joy and excitement? If the answer is “nope, not really!”, you’re not alone. As adults, we often find that holiday time is spent going to events we’re not interested in, shopping for obligatory gifts (and freaking out over the resulting bills), and concern about the seemingly inevitable holiday weight gain. Here at the Integrative Health Institute, we want to put the happy back into “Happy Holidays!” By minimizing stress during the month of December, you can cruise into January feeling fabulous. My top tips:
- Just say NO. While it is wonderful to have so many parties, get-togethers, and “chills”, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. When your calendar is chock-full and you find yourself dreading that next event, something’s got to give. Edit down your events to the things you really want to attend and perhaps one or two “obligation” dates. If it seems expendable, it probably is. Carve out a little time for you, and leave guilt at the door.
- Just say YES! At the parties you do attend, you may find yourself tempted by some perennial favourites. Eggnog! Gingerbread! More eggnog! If you find you are beating yourself up after every indulgence, chances are you aren’t enjoying it anymore. Set a number for yourself (three to five seems about right) for holiday season treats, and gobble them with zero regrets! ’Tis the season, after all. One caveat: if your treat of choice contains alcohol, make sure you indulge responsibly and have a pal drive you home.
- Channel your 7 year old self. What was your favourite part of holiday time as you grew up? Going skating with friends? Baking with Mom? Staying in pajamas all day while devouring comic books? Recreate these moments now. Connect with someone you haven’t in a while or, if they’re not available, invite a new friend. If you can swing it, take a day off to put on your footsie jammies and chill. Whatever made you happy as a kid, recreate it now, whether you do it traditionally or reinvent it to your updated tastes.
- Create new traditions. While your childhood faves may bring back some wonderful memories, perhaps it’s time to create some new. Find a meaningful activity that you’ve been wanting to try and make sure you fit it into your schedule. It may be a one-off activity for the season (grab your friends and go caroling with a hot chocolate after party) or a daily indulgence (20 minute morning meditation that can carry you into the new year). Did your new activity not go so well? No worries! Try it again if you’re game, or scrap it and try something else. Traditions aren’t forced… They come from a love of something that is so strong you want to do it again and again every year. Experiment and enjoy!
While many folks find the holidays to be a stressful season, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to the same fate year in and year out. Turn it around with my tips. If you’re feeling this stress all year, it may be time to chat with your counsellor about what’s really stressing you out and nip it in the bud so that your stress doesn’t follow you into next year. Join me in January, and together we can minimize your stress for 2016! Happy Holidays!
Lauren Berger is BACK at the Integrative Health Institute on January 6, 2016! She is a Registered Social Worker providing counselling and psychotherapy. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW. Book your appointment with Lauren here.