It’s December and the holidays are quickly approaching! This season is by far my favorite time of year. I love sweater weather, and the cold, brisk and fresh air outside, along with a sprinkle of snow to add to the ambiance. Being surrounded by the comfort of family, friends and delicious holiday treats is wonderful.
For many, however, the holiday season can be very stressful. Buying presents, cooking and going to parties can result in stress and fatigue. What I have found is that many people look forward to the holidays for months, but once the holidays start, these individuals can’t wait for them to be over.
When stressed during the holidays, it’s easy to forget about the many people who are alone, depressed or poor during this season because we become consumed with our own lives and the holiday extravaganza. In order to stay grounded and grateful, it’s important to look outside of ourselves and create time and space to support individuals and families who are less fortunate than ourselves. Finding ways to connect with them, donate money and/or volunteer our time to help them is imperative.
Living in Alignment with Your Values
In order to fully appreciate and revel in the holidays, we must stay grounded and focus on what we value the most, and ensure that our actions are fully aligned with our values. I often invite my clients to identify and assess whether they are living their lives in accordance with their values. I, too, periodically check in with myself to ensure that my actions are aligned with my values.
In our culture, we often focus on consumption and more consumption. Perhaps it is your tradition to buy gifts for family and friends, but how much is too much? As a therapist, I don’t judge, but I gently encourage my clients to look inward and evaluate their values and what’s important to them. Focusing on our inner selves is essential, healing and worthwhile in the long run since we are happier and more fulfilled when we nourish our soul.
One way that I stay grounded is to volunteer at Rosie’s Place, a short-term women’s shelter that provides a variety of opportunities to the women who access their services. Although I love visiting the shelter, it is disheartening to see the number of women there living with mental illness, which is often heightened during the holidays. Not only am I humbled and honored to get to know some of the women at Rosie’s, I am also thrilled to sprinkle a bit of joy into their lives. Volunteering is a gift which keeps me grounded and grateful for what I have, while providing me the opportunity to give back and live aligned with my values.
Tips to Stay Grounded and Grateful During the Holidays
Feeling overwhelmed during the holidays is often self-inflicted. Do we really need to buy gifts for everyone on our list? Do we really need to attend multiple parties each week? Do we really need to interact with family and friends who are toxic? You get the picture. What is going to help you stay grounded and grateful during the holidays?
Here are my seven steps to staying grounded and grateful during the holiday season:
- Look inward and evaluate what’s important in your life during the holiday season.
- Spend quality time with family and friends during the holiday season.
- Pace yourself with holiday events and parties. Saying “no” to an invitation is often a way we can take better care of ourselves.
- Give back to your community by volunteering for an organization you feel connected to.
- Spend adequate time engaging in your hobbies and interests.
- Make time for your own self-care.
- Reduce the number of purchases you make. Rather than overspending, donate money to a cause you feel connected to.
I encourage you to take my holiday challenge. Try some or all of my suggestions above and see if you feel more relaxed, fulfilled and happy during the holidays. My bet is that you will! Let me know how you are progressing.
As always, please feel free to email me with questions, concerns or comments. I welcome a visit with you to discuss further! Contact me for an appointment here.
Karen Chinca is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) with over fifteen years of experience working with adults and families. Karen’s specialties include treating anxiety and panic disorders, eating disorders, OCD, and trauma. Karen incorporates cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, internal family systems and mindfulness into her practice.