Find Your True Meaning of the Holidays

If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, it’s hard to hit the target.  That truism applies to many things in life.  It certainly applies to enjoying the holidays without sacrificing your overall health.  It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday festivities and opportunities.

But how do we know where that perfect balance resides?  How do you become aware of where your tipping point is before you cross it?  How do you pick and choose what you want to make up your holiday experiences with some level of intent and purpose?  You start with your own spiritual and philosophical framework.

 

Tip #1: Identify the True Meaning and Purpose for Your Holiday Season

What does the holiday season mean and represent to you?  Is the central message about your faith?  Are the holidays about being with your family?  Or is the best part of the holidays for you about getting away from work and school, relaxing and unplugging from your normal, mundane day-to-day schedule.

Do you experience phenomenal joy in giving others lavish gifts?  Let your inner meaning and true purpose for the holidays help guide you in planning and designing your holiday endeavors.

Instead of attempting to make time for everything, make sure you make time for what’s important.  There are a plethora of good options for the holidays.  But don’t let the good crowd out the best.

“What does the holiday season mean and represent to you?”

Helpful hints for all:  Write down a list, identify what the priorities are for you, and rank them.  Then, use your criteria to help evaluate how you will dispense your time, energy, and effort.

Research indicates that writing down goals, reminders, and tasks not only provide a visual and external reminder of your said priorities but that it also increases the likelihood of achieving or accomplishing the identified goal.

If you want to better structure your holiday activities around what’s most important to you, write down your goals and priorities.

 

Tip #2: Give Yourself Realistic Expectations

Change, even healthy and welcomed change, can be challenging and harder for some more than others.  Attempts to try new things that impact others can be taken personally and be challenged.  The holidays aren’t the time and place to completely reinvent the wheel.

If we are looking to enhance our holiday experience and reduce the negative stress, don’t go overboard with your holiday adjustments to the point that the change itself is a strong catalyst for stress.

It’s about reducing or eliminating stress by being judicious with your time, energy, and efforts.  Don’t let disappointment or pushback from others whither your resolve.  It’s about moving in the right direction versus quickly arriving at the end destination.

Helpful hints for all:  Don’t go overboard with change.  Identify one or two changes to enhance your enjoyment and roll with them.  Identify one or two changes to reduce holiday stress and roll with them. Instead of overextending yourself and doing a lot of things halfheartedly and poorly, choose only a few things and do them wholeheartedly and well.

Remember, if over scheduling and overextension is one of your problems, be prepared to let go of some past commitments in order to make room for new, healthier, options.



Tip #3: Volunteer and Serve Others

Research has found that those who volunteer report higher levels of happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, a sense of control over life and physical health.

Bottom line; making the holidays not all about you actually cycles back and helps you!  Whether it is through the faith/religious community or secular institutes and non-profit organizations, there are endless opportunities to volunteer and serve the poor or those in need, whether it be children, families, veterans and armed forces, the elderly, the incarcerated, the mentally or physically ill, or anyone lonely, hurting, or feeling forgotten.

“Instead of attempting to make time for everything, make sure you make time for what’s important.” 

Helpful hints for all:  Volunteer for a new or unfamiliar activity, demographic, or organization.  It may provide you with the chance to learn, grow, and meet new people.  It can provide a new perspective on life as well as keep your focus on service.

Often I see parents volunteering at their children’s schools, but the focus is on socializing with other parents (often gossiping), interacting with their children’s teachers, and spending time with their kids and their kid’s friends.  It is also very common for folks to volunteer and help out at their church/temple.

While none of this is bad or wrong per say, it may limit the benefits of meeting and interacting with complete strangers and stepping out of your own insulated world.

 

Click here to read more articles by Jonathan Hetterly, LPC!




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