DECEMBER & STRESS: How to enjoy the holidays

The holiday season is fast approaching! One day after the Thanksgiving turkey is carved and enjoyed by our family and friends, along comes the shopping frenzy commonly referred to as Black Friday! A time when we rush to the stores to buy holiday gifts at discounted prices! Or we take advantage of Cyber Monday where we go online to buy gifts at low prices! During the month of December, we also celebrate Kwanzaa commemorating African family social values and the Jewish holiday, Hanukkah, for the rededication of the Second Temple in the 2nd century.

It seems that the holidays begin earlier each year where now we see holiday displays in stores even before Halloween. How do we enjoy the holiday season without some of the stress that seems to go along with it? Stress from feeling like you need to come up with the most unique and thoughtful gift or trying to figure out how you are going to pay for those gifts and the holiday decorations.

It can be a very stressful time for many of us because of the financial demands we put on ourselves. To help with the financial strain of the holidays, you may want to discuss setting limits of how much a gift should cost with your relatives, for example no more than $25.00. Or consider decreasing the number of people you are giving gifts to such as drawing names from the pool of relatives to buy for.

There are ways to navigate through this often stressful and difficult time of year by enjoying the gifts we have in our relationships with our families and friends. Spending time with the people in your life you truly enjoy. Caring about those who are alone and lifting their spirits by spending time with them and listening to their stories. Volunteering at a homeless shelter or church that provides meals during the holidays. Donating clothing such as warm socks and coats to organizations that give to the homeless. Buying toys for families in need through your local church, fire department (toy drives) or “giving” trees.

We can be grateful for what we have and how we can help those who are in need. The best gift is not to receive but to give of ourselves to others whether it be gifts or your time. To gain a perspective of what the true meaning of the holidays is try meditation, breathing slowly, taking walks, and even smiling more often to help in becoming more mindful.

A couple of stories come to mind when I think of what the holidays truly mean. I remember reading of a young boy who wanted an expensive skateboard but after seeing the plight of the homeless, he told his parents to use that money to buy blankets and food for the homeless. He was reminded of living in a shelter when his family’s home burnt down three years ago.

Another story that describes what the holidays mean is when I saw a homeless person wrapped in a rain-soaked blanket wearing only one shoe and carrying a piece of bread. It reminded me that it is important to give to others less fortunate or to give to a favorite charity.

You can check out the authenticity of a charity to ensure that your donation is going to the cause through these websites:

Lastly, as the New Year quickly approaches, I need to say something about the unkept resolutions we make each year. I suggest that you do not waste time coming up with resolutions which are typically not kept anyway. I learned the following from a Celebration of Life service I attended recently which is to focus on the meaning of your life by answering the following questions:

  1. Why am I here? (everyone is here for a reason)
  2. What am I supposed to be doing?
  3. How do I go about doing it?

Finding a purpose in your life is more important and lasting than an unkept resolution. I want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and a healthy and happy new year!

Categories: Health, Opinions, Psychology

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