‘Tis the Season to Protect Your Mental Health

It has been some time since I posted a holiday blog. All around us the holidays are building or at least the pressure to find the perfect gift, prepare the perfect meal, host the perfect gathering is building. I’m writing this blog on Black Friday. You will be reading this after Black Friday. It is important to take a breath and ask ourselves, “what is the true purpose of the holiday season?”

winter scene

Many of us think back to our childhood and youth and want the holidays to be as magical as they were before. Or perhaps your remembrance of the holidays is less positive and you are trying to create something totally different.  In either case the pressure is enormous. Perfect gifts. Perfect dinner. Everyone with a smile on their face. The reality is that perfect is hard to define, let alone achieve. So, can your expectations and goals for the holidays be different this year?

Great Expectations for the Holidays

  1.  Parents that are relaxed, calm and don’t focus on the perfect, ideal, magical moment.  If you are wondering what I mean by this, it is simple. Less stress protects your mental health. Aim for a good job.  Aim for kids that enjoy gift giving and receiving, but that isn’t the only focus. It is okay if you didn’t get the most coveted toy on the market this year for your child. It is okay if there is less than previous years as we all experience the economic crunch.
  2. Create memories. It’s okay if the gingerbread house collapses because they are just going to eat it anyway.  Engage in activities that cost less or nothing at all. When was the last time you went for a walk (or drive) on Christmas Eve to see the lights in your neighbourhood? Played a board game? Do something together. Focus on the simple.
  3. Talk to your family or friends/guests about expectations about doing the holidays differently.  Ask people what they would like to do. Make it easy for everyone. If that means ordering take out or making food that is easier, then do it. Not everyone needs a turkey dinner with all the courses. One family I know is doing appetizers for dinner on Christmas day.
  4. Be in the moment. Take it all in because it will be different next year. Everyone will be a year older, and some may not even be here. Imagine if the goal was simply to be mindful. To breathe. To stop and smell the roses or the tree so to speak. There is no pressure when you are mindful. You are simply observing the moment by being present.
  5. Be kind to yourself. This will protect your mental health as well. If you make a “mistake”, try to pivot and shake it off. Sometimes the mistakes make the most interesting memories.

This blog is my gift to you. Please share it with friends and family. Wishing everyone a safe and mindful holiday season!

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