It's easy to get stressed over the holidays. Here are 7 ways to make December your favorite month.
We are all in touch with some of the downsides of Christmas holidays—spending money, others’ expectations, travel hassles, relatives we may prefer not to hang out with, and the ending of the year with its accomplishments and intentions, met or unmet.
I’m convinced that if you follow these 7 practices, you’ll look back with delight on this December.
1) Please yourself. Make a list of something special you will do just to please you for each week this month. It could be a Holiday Music Fest, Zoo Lights, driving or busing around neighborhoods with especially lovely decorations, or making brownies and eating 1 a day till they’re gone. How about reading a book every day for an hour, or napping, or just looking out the window from your favorite viewpoint—at home, or 25 stories up. Maybe you’d enjoy visiting a new church or community center or open house. Add your choice to your schedule and take it as seriously as any other item on your list.
2) Get gifts you want. Ask those who give you gifts to share what they’d like, and tell them 3 or 4 presents you would welcome. It is a stress reliever to know you and they will receive a gift they’d truly like. Hearing an animated “Oh, wow!” or “Just what I wanted!” is so much more welcome than a perfunctory “Thank you” that may or may not be meant. If they’d prefer a gift card to Home Depot or Target, how wonderful not to rack your brain for the jacket or perfume or concert tickets you hope they’ll like.
3) Support a cause. Contribute $10 to $100 to a cause you believe in, whether Doctors Without Borders, Salvation Army, Cancer Society, or any charity you know makes a difference. Not only does that remind you that you’re not as broke as you may have told yourself, it also gives you 1 or more things to be grateful for as you distinguish “have-to-gifts” from “I’m glad I can do this” gifts. You can come up with the money by walking instead of busing or driving, drinking 1 less latte a week, or cutting out other self-indulgences for the sake of indulging others.
4) Watch your favorite show again. “It’s a Wonderful Life” with James Stewart, “Elf,” “Scrooge,” Nutcracker Ballet or anything that warms your heart. If you have a custom of going out for a new movie, keep the custom as long as it pleases you. Or pull up something from Netflix or Hulu to bring on the raucous laughter or the healing tears. Savor this time as much as you would look forward to your child’s birthday or to a surprise party for you. It’s so easy to get overextended and to make excuses for not doing what relaxes you. Can you guess how much lighter you may feel about holiday headaches when you’ve said YES to what brings back memories of favorite movies or activities. If popcorn or eggnog or Christmas cookies or hot toddies are tied in with those memories, be sure to include them and relish them again. Invite family or friends to share the show, or watch it alone—whichever you will do with ease and pleasure.
5) Volunteer. Call your local church or library or newspaper or United Way or Salvation Army or any organization that would welcome volunteers. Would you enjoy sharing a toy with a homeless child? Visiting a lonely senior or a new family in the neighborhood? Inviting an acquaintance over for coffee? Offering to babysit for a couple who’d like to have a date night? You might bring items to a food bank. And you can consciously smile at people on the street without signing up for anything. You’ll have the satisfaction of seeing you do have time to make a difference for someone. And you might even start a habit that will give you and them ongoing satisfaction.
6) Start a 21-day self-affirming habit. It could be meditation, listening to free webinars (www.manifesteverythingnow.com), subscribing to www.abraham-hicks.com or www.tut.com, repeating the 12 Pathways (http://mindprod.com/livinglove/methods/pathways.html), which are 5 of my favorite practices, or any number of methods or processes for increasing self-love and having the life you love. I welcome your call for a free coaching session in any area where you want new behaviors or results or satisfaction or change.
7) Count your blessings. Instead of noting all you didn’t get completed this year, list 10-50 things you feel good about. Start or add to your Gratitude Journal. Note compliments from friends or co-workers. Remember the genuine appreciation you received for your helpfulness and warmth. List the meals you made or ate that were a big hit for you and/or others. Recall the outings to parks and rivers and trails and city festivals and dances and concerts. Savor memories of minutes or hours at the beach, on your deck, laughing with friends, preparing for a trip, seeing new sights, trying a new hobby, being content to just sit and take in all the things that bring a smile of contentment to your whole being.
And if you'd like a free coaching session on dealing with the old year or the new, and its challenges or issues, email firstname.lastname@example.org and write Free Session in the subject line. Leave your phone number and I'll call you back. Happy Holidays!