How to Enjoy the Holidays This Year

Especially if you’re someone who hates the holidays

Photo by Jessica S. Irvin on Unsplash

It’s that time of year again. And per usual, it has snuck up on us. The holidays, as we all know, can be a huge source of stress. However, they can also be a fabulous time of year if we let our guards down, breathe, and remember we’re lucky to be spending time with the people we love and care about most — even if those same people have the tendency to drive us crazy. Life is all about perspective, yes?

While I used to be a Scrooge come wintertime, I’ve grown to appreciate this time of year simply because I decided it was more enjoyable to focus on the good (like warm fires and laughing with my sisters) rather than the bad (like being trapped in a car for 10 hours traveling with small humans).

So, instead of relying on endless glasses of wine and extra CBD gummies to get us through the holidays this year, let’s shift our mindset to one of gratitude — instead of annoyance — in order to really make the most of whatever you’re celebrating as this year comes to a close.

Whether you’re traveling far and wide to see family or are laying low with your crew, it goes without saying that being out of our routines can be challenging. So give yourself grace. And remember that putting yourself first IS NOT selfish, it’s self preservation — even during the holidays when we’re expected to give, give, give, and give some more, of ourselves.

Photo by Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash

That said, here are 4 things to keep in mind as you prepare yourself for the festive season.

1. Set an intention.

How do you want to spend this Christmas/Hanukkah season? Where do you want to focus your time and energy? Taking a minute to consider what (and perhaps more importantly, whom) you want to expend your energy on creates awareness and helps you prioritize what matters.

Setting intentions (both to yourself and out-loud to your loved ones) prevents arguments, keeps expectations low, and lessens the guilt that always comes with doing what we want versus what other people want.

This month, I’m going to set the intention of being 100% locked into where I am and who I’m with, at that precise moment. I’m not going to scroll through my phone at the dinner table or think about everything that needs to get done when I get back to work or wish I was somewhere else.

I’m also going to start the day with a new mantra I picked up a few years back from the brilliant writer Jen Sincero, “What you focus on you create more of” — aka if I focus on being worried, I’m going to create more worry. But if I focus on having fun and being thankful, I’m going to create more of THAT energy.

2. Keep your workouts.

This is a big one. Keeping yourself accountable to exercising every day will keep your mind sharp, your body strong, and your stress and anxiety under control. Maybe it will even prevent you from gaining that dreaded holiday weight. Damn you, delicious sugar cookies.

While keeping up your fitness routine is (very!) important, so is setting realistic expectations around your exercise goals. Chances are, you’re going to overeat at some point — or are at least going to eat things that aren’t in your normal diet. Instead of beating yourself up about indulging in one too many slices of apple pie, get back on track the next day and move on.

Scheduling my workouts is the first thing I do when I go home for the holidays. I reserve spin classes when I can fit them in, and on days I can’t make it to the studio, I have my backup gear with me — jump rope, yoga mat and weights — ready to be whipped out whenever I need to get a quick HIIT workout in.

Photo by Heidi Kaden on Unsplash

3. Plan an activity that doesn’t revolve around gift exchanges and carb overloads.

Presents and cheesy potatoes are great, but too much of a good thing really can be a bad thing. It’s easy to fall into the same patterns of doing the same things when you head home for the holidays. And while there’s nothing wrong with lounging around in your PJs with your family all day, there’s only so much sitting and snacking one can do before someone snaps.

Do something, anything, that’s out of the ordinary. Plan to hike a few mornings with your parents or siblings. Go to a breakfast spot in town with an old friend. Switching up your environment (even through music or new conversation) is always a good idea when you’re cooped up.

4. Operate from a place of gratitude.

Coming from someone who has conducted numerous feel-good experiments, I’m telling you, practicing gratitude is one of the best things you can do for your mind, and consequently, your life. Recent studies have shown that practicing gratitude improves our health, our perspective on life, and even our relationships.

The moment you start to feel stressed, alone, or anxious, allow yourself to sit in that feeling for a minute, but then switch over to a place of thankfulness, thinking about the things that make your life great.

May you all have a fabulous, drama free holiday season.

To keep up with Ashley and her mental health tips, sign up for her mindset health newsletter, Sip Sip.

You can find her on Instagram, here.

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Ashley Alt

Ashley Alt

Life is better when we laugh. I write about the importance of mental health & believe our weirdness is what makes us great. https://ashleyalt.substack.com/

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