Whitby, On

The etymology of the word "holiday" in English is Holy-Day, that is, a special day out of the ordinary, an extended period of free time dedicated to rest or pleasure. So the end of the year festivities should be a time to enjoy, do the things we like and have fun. Unfortunately, most of the time they become a great burden of demands: attending parties we don't always want to go to, shopping in tumultuous shopping centers and often putting financial stress on the budget, baking more, cooking, cleaning and entertaining, just to mention a few.

Instead of making this time a time to recharge and enjoy, it often becomes a stressful time. We often have higher expectations for this season than for any other time of the year. We think, or the publicity has made us think, that we have to give (or receive) the "perfect gift", that we should have an impeccable dinner, that we have to be a close and warm family, that everyone in our meeting guests should have the best time in their life...

That sounds overwhelming ... When the realities of life conflict with our expectations for making the holiday season perfect, stress appears. However, it is up to us to make the holidays a beautiful moment or the worst of times. Here are 12 tips to make this time a real holiday:

  1. Be realistic. The parties don't have to be perfect or the same as last year or any other year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals also often change. Find new ways to celebrate according to current circumstances.
  2. Take care of yourself. If you are doing all these things for everyone else, also do something for yourself and your enjoyment. You don't have to enjoy only by yourself, but you have to do something for yourself.
  3. Do not drag yourself or your family from one event to another. Think about quality, not quantity.
  4. Do things with sunlight. This stimulates the production of serotonin and helps relieve seasonal affective disorder. Spend time outdoors or near a window on sunny days.
  5. Forget perfection. Stop obsessing about doing everything. The world will not end if not everything goes with the plan. Focus your energy on enjoying the moment and the people around you.
  6. Leave the technology a bit aside. The constant sounds of cell phones and email alerts keep us in a perpetual fight or flight mode due to adrenaline bursts. Not only is this exhausting, but it also contributes to increased stress levels. What better time to turn off your devices than during a party gathering? Enjoy what's in front of you with your family and friends.
  7. Family time. This is the time of the year when families feel compelled to unite in a peaceful and loving way, whether they like it or not! If you like to be with your family, just be in the present moment. If your family is truly abusive or unhealthy for you, know that you have the option of refusing to spend time with them. However, if like most families, they are slightly irritating, opinionated or hypercritical, take this opportunity to practice their communication skills.
  8. The loneliness. This season can often be a time when the absence of family or social connections stands out. If you are far from family, try creative ways to connect with them such as email, videos or videoconferences. If you feel alone, look for local concerts or community events to attend. Find out if a co-worker can also be away from the family or without vacation plans and have a shared meal. Consider spending your time giving someone who needs you as a volunteer.
  9. Enjoy in moderation. Delight yourself with foods you can have only once a year, but don't forget the importance of healthy eating. Don't stress about food, enjoy it. Everything in moderation is key at this time of year. Along the same lines, limit your alcohol consumption, since excessive consumption will increase feelings of depression.
  10. Limit expenses. Money problems are one of the main causes of stress during the holiday season. Buying gifts, entertainment and travel can generate a financial burden, even for the smartest shoppers. Set a budget.
  11. Remember the reason for the season. Take the time and effort to reaffirm what this season really means for you, whether it is about family, community, religion, personal development.
  12. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may feel persistently sad or anxious, plagued with physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine tasks. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your family doctor, to a mental health professional.

I hope this year that is ending has brought you improvement and growth in different areas of your life along with happiness. I want to wish you a very prosperous year in 2020. Let's focus our minds on what we want so that we can achieve it next year.

Pablo Munoz