The Holiday Season – Food For Thought And A Plan For Action

Although it’s only October, the stores are already beginning to stock inventory for the holidays. No matter your religion or the holidays you observe, your winter season likely includes extra celebrations, festivities, obligations, and assorted “things to do.” It’s a season that can be filled with expectations–real heartfelt wants and dreams–and also expectations of how we “should” feel and things we “should” do.

During the holiday season, many people fall into a trap by assigning a low priority to their own personal goals and needs. Sometimes attending to those needs falls off the radar screen entirely. Gym attendance declines. Many groups and social organizations cancel their meetings. I’ve even heard of corporate wellness programs that don’t operate during November and December because “the employees aren’t interested.”

I understand why this happens. I scale back on things too. It’s a busy time with lots of demands and the calendar tends to get very full, very fast. Sometimes we cut back because we feel there is no alternative, or because it seems like our schedule or our energy level or our budget demand it. Often we tell ourselves that not going to the gym or making the weight loss support group or scheduling that coffee date with a friend will actually reduce our stress.

If this sounds at all familiar, I want to challenge you to think about that mindset very carefully this year. If this is what usually happens for you, is it really your best choice?

Does cutting out the “personal stuff” really create the desired effect? Does it reduce your stress level in the bigger picture? Do you really enjoy yourself more when you do things this way? Are you truly more present for the traditions or experiences that are most important for you?

Or are you (like many) cutting back on the very things that feed your soul and prime you to approach the season with the resilience and positive attitude you desire? Are you eliminating the habits that help you be the very best that you can be? Here’s one possible sign of this trap: do you ever regretfully find yourself looking forward to January, when things “will get back to normal?”

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What would it take to be proactive this year?
  • How could you improve the way you honor your own needs and priorities without adding to feelings of overwhelm?
  • If these questions seem unanswerable, it doesn’t mean they aren’t helpful. Think small and think specific. What are the small rituals, routines, appointments with yourself that you benefit from keeping?

My Challenge to you:

Think about one change you’d like to make in your approach to the holidays this year. and post a comment sharing what you’ve chosen to do differently.

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