The holidays are a time to treat yourself. This is a chance to enjoy the things that make you happy. Eat a little more delicious food at holiday meals. Give yourself a little less work. Use the breaks to make it to the gym. Spend time with family. See movies. Make some time for a video game you like. Wine and unwind. If there’s a snowstorm, sit at the window and enjoy the peace and quiet it brings.
Put Down the Phone. Really.
In a world that’s very overwhelming, we too often use our free time to create new busy-work. We have to catch up on social media that stresses us out or obsess over price-shopping between sales for products we don’t need. When we go back to work, that doesn’t mean we’re relaxed and refreshed. It means we’re already high-strung and feeling anxious.
Put down the phone from time to time. It’s a useful tool, but it shouldn’t run your life. Don’t miss time with friends or family or skip out on an activity because you’re too wrapped up in notifications. That activity is happening now. The notifications will still be there tomorrow.
Ask for Help on Stressful Things
A Thanksgiving or Christmas meal can be expensive. Make it a potluck. If you’re a little embarrassed, that’s OK. Phrase it as appreciation. Ask someone to bring a dish of theirs that they love to share. “Mom, can you make the sweet potatoes? I love the way you make them.” Or: “Bob, you make really good pumpkin pie. Can you bring the desserts this year?”
People will like being asked to bring something that someone else appreciates. It helps share the burden of cost, as well as time. Sometimes, to treat yourself, you need to ask others to treat you, too.
If you’re the one bringing something to someone else’s holiday meal, and you’re not a cook, be the one to bring the wine, the movie you’ll watch after, or help with preparation or clean up. These are ways to contribute that don’t break the bank.
Don’t Add Financial Stress
Holiday stress studies often verify the same information. Money is a major stress factor during this season.
Buying gifts for everyone for Christmas and Hanukkah can be expensive. It’s OK to make gifts. It’s good to buy one gift that means a lot and not worry about adding a ton of others that mean nothing. It’s fine to share the cost of a gift with someone else and give it together. An experience can be a gift if you really mean it. Be creative and diverse with your gift-giving, and kind to your wallet if it needs some kindness.
Don’t Buy Everything
Stores use sales tactics that focus on impulse buying. This means you buy before thinking. You rate something as such a good deal, you don’t even wait to ask yourself if you need the item being sold. Before making Black Friday and Christmas purchases for yourself, wait a minute and ask if it’s something you’ll really use.
If you’ll consume it or use it, then go ahead and buy it. If it’s something you’re getting mainly because the price is good and not because you’ll truly enjoy it, walk away.
One good idea is to make a list of money you didn’t spend. Every time you walk away from a deal on something you won’t use, write it down. After the holidays, add it all up. It’ll be one of the best gifts you get.
Spend Money on Experiences, Enjoyment.
Spend money on a trip, on going to the movies, on wine you’ll drink, on something you’ll make, on a board game you’ll share. Don’t just spend it on stuff. You’ll get more value out of a memory sharing time with someone than you will out of the majority of things that will be stored in closets and drawers.
Above all, share the things you like. The holidays should be a time to slow things down and breathe, so focus on making them just that. Ask what’s new that your friends have discovered this year: a movie, a game, an album, a restaurant, a karaoke bar, a hike, an overlook, a quiz night, whatever it might be. Look to share what they enjoy, and then share what you’ve discovered that you want more people to go to or talk about with you.
Slow Things Down. Be Patient.
At work, we’re asked to handle more tasks than ever before. Whether you’re a barista or an office worker, there are more processes, more rules, more data, more responsibilities. This gets overwhelming.
The holidays offer you a chance to slow things back down, to recharge and refocus. You don’t want them to whip by with no other memory than something you bought. You want them to last a while, with memories of what you shared, with plans for what you’ll do in January and February.
Go out with friends somewhere new. Or enjoy a late night watching a film with hot chocolate and popcorn. Invite friends over to play trivia, or wine and unwind with cheese and chocolate.
Enjoy Being Yourself
Treat yourself to a few things that are new and exciting. Treat yourself to a few things that are comfortable, familiar, and reassuring. Stretch out, and also re-establish and reinforce your foundation. The world can be stressful. So can the holidays.
Use the holidays as a chance to recharge and practice the things you’d like to enjoy more often. Be the way you want to be during the holidays, and maybe you’ll start recognizing more moments during the rest of the year when you can be that person, too.