The holidays are meant to be a time for happiness and cheer. We’re encouraged to visit family and friends, engage in special celebrations, and spread the “Holiday Spirit” everywhere we go. The concept behind these traditions is based in joy, but it can sometimes be hard to actually feel joyful. Whether this is due to bad memories, feelings of loneliness, financial stress, or even just the winter weather, there are many reasons you could be feeling a bit more like Scrooge than you’d like. If you’re trying to bring joy back to the holidays, here are a few ways to start.
Focus on your core values. What and who is important to you? Why? Make these people and things the most important parts of your holiday season, even if that means saying no to others. Don’t overbook yourself. Exhaustion and stress will feed feelings of depression and anxiety. It’s great to have plans, just make sure to balance your schedule and set priorities.
Unplug. There are so many reasons to unplug from technology during the holidays. First, jealousy is one of the fastest killjoys out there. Don’t add extra stress by comparing your holiday to someone else’s. Also, don’t forget to stay in the moment. Do you ever print out those 30 pictures you took of someone unwrapping a gift? No, so put your phone down and take time to relish in the moment, creating a memory that will be cherished just as much if not more than a photograph.
Stop aiming for perfection. The holiday stories people tell the most are the ones where the family got food poisoning on Christmas day or where the turkey nearly caught fire. There is truly no perfection in those moments, but the memories are what make them joyous in hindsight. There is so much anxiety in trying to make everything “just right” when it’s completely unnecessary in the long run. We all live imperfect lives and our joy is not derived from a perfect looking tree but that moment when the ugly tree becomes surprisingly beautiful.
Communicate Expectations. Sometimes joy can be lost during the holidays because expectations are not communicated between spouses, partners, extended family members, or even friends. What are your expectations of others? Perhaps it’s time to reassess them. We often expect others to respond as we want them to. This could be a reaction to a gift we bought, an invitation to a party, or even receiving a holiday greeting card. People, even the best of people, will disappoint our expectations, because they are different from us. Simply do your best and assume everyone around you is doing theirs as well.