Anticipation of the holiday season seems to awaken before the Halloween moon has begun to fade. Appetites shift from ghoulish, sugary treats to rich Christmas foods consumed over many weeks. Wrapped candy surprises give way to more expensively wrapped gifts. Up go the lights, the calories, the spending, and the stress.
What’s the rush to get started on Christmas? For many, there is a yearning for the “magic” of the season: the happiness, warmth, and connection with family and friends that seasonal gatherings promise. People often wish the spirit of Christmas would last all year round.
Maybe it’s a blessing that it doesn’t! The anticipation of Christmas pleasure is often accompanied by intense stress. High anxiety, fatigue, and overindulgence are common throughout the season. Our idealized celebration of the holiday often conflicts with the reality of our experience. This discrepancy fuels disappointment and distress.
Ghosts of Past Christmases
Our desire for the heartfelt closeness at Christmas, the fun social times, and the promise of magic and surprises was imprinted on our emotional makeup as youngsters, as was our love for the associated foods, gifts, and rituals. Overindulgence can be an attempt to satisfy our longing for Christmas past or for the Christmas we never had.
We often spend months planning the “happy holiday.” We strain to find the perfect gift while maintaining that “it’s the thought that counts.” So that everyone will be happy, we exhaust ourselves meeting obligations and expectations.
Before embarking on the whirlwind of preparations this Christmas, step back for a moment and ask yourself what you really want. What do you truly value? What are you longing to feel and experience? Often we desire warmth and connection, personal well-being, and joyful lightheartedness.
Perhaps we seek genuine fullness, which is to say a sense of fulfillment. This feeling flourishes with heart-felt involvement and connection, stark contrast to the fleeting satisfaction derived from guilty indulgence.
Review Your Values
Are you living your values at Christmas? Do overindulging on unhealthy food, racing to buy splendid gifts, and spending your heartbeats on obligations and traditions that hold no meaning for you, align with your values? Is this really what you want for Christmas? Take a moment to look deep into your heart so you know what you want–then tell your loved ones. Saying and doing something other than what we really want creates an internal division that results in a life half-lived. This is the root of enormous stress and dissatisfaction.
Instead, honour your values this holiday season. Create the happy Christmas you want!
Being True to You
Make this Christmas fit your values by doing the following:
- Choose food for health not tradition.
- Replace shopping with personal contact.
- Respect your personal limits for food and rest, which might include saying no to others.
- Honestly reveal your thoughts and feelings by saying what you do and don’t want, with sensitivity to others.
- Do less and “be” more.