The Psychology Edit #3 December ’22

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year: gifts, a rest from school or work, vacationing, and time with family….
Yet, on the flip side is the pressure to purchase just the right gifts (which aren’t always appreciated), not to mention the cost of all these gifts; too many days of unstructured time—alone or with kids; the pressures of flying or long-distance driving plus the logistics of vacationing, and, of course…SO MUCH time with family—fielding unwanted conversations and managing personalities.
The truth is, at least a little, that the twinkling lights and festive gift wrap conceal the knowledge that this time of year sometimes brings out the worst in each of us. We are maximally stressed, exhausted, and not really in the mood for it all! We are not always our best selves when faced with difficult relatives, crowds at the mall and one more gift to wrap.
But, of course, we need to power through the next few weeks, capturing the best part of the season and letting go of the frustrations. After all, the New Year is upon us, a perfect time for a reboot. So, how do we find that fun-loving, peaceful, and relaxed part of ourselves amidst all the craziness…the part that can enjoy the moment and capture the good memories?
  1. Start by putting down your phone! Rather than focusing on taking perfect pictures of a moment, really be in it, even if it isn’t the best time ever. Actively search for positives: good food, a couple of people you like, a location to appreciate. Focus on these and allow the rest to fade away.
  2. Remind yourself that even in less than enjoyable situations there are always aspects that you can control. For example, you may have to wrap more gifts at midnight, but you can do so while listening to your favorite podcast. You might need to attend an obligatory party, but you can wear your favorite outfit and feel good. The flight or drive could be stressful, but it’s an excuse to bring your favorite snacks!
  3. Reflect on how others may experience their time with you this season. For instance, you might be less than thrilled to drive hours in traffic to a holiday party, but when you arrive, recognize that those who have been waiting to see you are excited that you are finally there. Allow them that pleasure by putting the mood of the stressful drive behind you. Similarly, giving gifts is always fraught with the stress of possibly disappointing the recipient, so make sure you are the one person that alleviates this stress by receiving ALL gifts with excitement, grace, and appreciation—this generosity of spirit is at the core of the spirit of the holiday season.
Thanks for reading!