Being "intentional" is a new, up and coming phenomenon that is sweeping our culture. And I am here for alllllllll of IT!
As we know, the holiday season for many comes with excitement, joy, family time, but also can be complete with financial stress, social anxiety, struggles with work/life balance, and so much more.
That was a lot.
However, this gives us ALL the more reason to be intentional this holiday season.
So, what is living intentionally?
With living intentionally, our goal is to recognize our time as the most valuable asset while also being very selective on how we spend our time. Sounds super easy, right? Well, yes and not always.
I believe with recent times, specifically related to COVID-19, we have seen the need to be even more deliberate and intentional with our time now more than ever. For many, this looks like having better boundaries with others, an eye opening and even traumatic awareness of the shortness of life, and the importance of life outside of work and responsibility. And this, in many ways, is such a beautiful thing. It really is! We are seeing more and more people taking the control over their life and how they spend time, being more intentional with living.
As we all know, with the holiday season there is often a sense of hustle and bustle, a long list of to-do's regarding decorations, baking holiday goodies, selecting the perfect gift, family photos, special outfits for certain occasions and so much more. While we may enjoy these things, it can significantly increase our sense of stress, anxiety, exhaustion and even depression levels. And this is definitely not what we want our holiday season to look like.
We hope that this year, we can give ourselves space to actually pause, breathe, and strategize ways to be more intentional with our time so that we can truly enjoy the holidays. Read below for a few tips on how to be intentional this holiday season and beyond:
1. Be selective and realistic on holiday related activities.
Think about the holiday ideas, activities, and traditions that you would like to do. Write those down! I'm talking "old-school" pen and paper, make an actual list. Maybe it is taking photos with Santa, family photos, viewing Christmas lights, the work holiday dinner, friends-thanks-Kwanza-Christmas celebration, your office White Elephant gift exchange, and so much more.
While these all may sounds like fun (and some of them really are), it can also be overwhelming as well. Instead of trying to do them all, try picking your top three activities that would be most enjoyable, and simply do those. You are allowed to narrow down your list. You can also look at spacing the activities out over a few weeks rather than trying to jam them all into one- this too can give you room to truly enjoy the activities.
It can also be a great opportunity to have a family conversation of what they would like the holiday season to be like- get their input, and this includes the kiddos too! Ask for feedback on what is most enjoyable or what they would like to do differently this year. The holiday season should be a reflection of your beliefs, values, and passions. It is not a contest on who can do the most holiday activities- the goal is to enjoy yourselves and it is hard to do that if we are stretched too thin.
2. Embrace and enjoy the time spent with loved ones.
Please notice I said "loved ones" and not "family". It is important to acknowledge that some people may not have family members or relatives who are safe, healthy people for them. And we are by no means required to embrace and (try to) enjoy time with them. Instead, you can choose WHO you spend your time with- family, friends, church members, neighbors, etc. - the option is yours! It can *even* be time spent alone.
It is important to be intentional in spending quality time with those you love. This can be through a variety of activities, crafts, or simply gathering with good conversation. Try to put away the phone, stop scrolling on social media, and engage with one another. Take photos, do silly dances, play fun songs, eat delicious food, do something fun or relaxing and most importantly: MAKE MEMORIES.
For my parents, it is important to remember that your children may not remember what toy or materialistic things you purchased, but they will remember different traditions - continue and/or create those! As an adult, they will remember the sweet smell of freshly baked sugar cookies that they were able to decorate. They may recall the joy and laughter shared over hot chocolate and good family conversation. This is what truly matters most.
3. Give yourself and others an extra dash of GRACE.
The holiday season is almost designed and built on a sense of excitement, anticipation, and maybe even a little positive anxiousness. Which makes it so incredibly easy to fall into the stress trap that the holiday season can become- think stressful gift giving, gift wrapping, preparing holiday food, etc. For most, excitement can almost build with each day that comes! So we have to be sure that we give ourselves permission to actually ENJOY the day and the season at hand.
If you find yourself stressed, simply pause.
Refocus on what is important in the situation. Refocus on time with yourself and time with others. Perfection is not the goal here. The other parts such as attire, food, gifts, etc. are much less significant. The true joy of the season is held within the spirit of community and support. Try your best to be patient with yourself and with others, as we all try to navigate this exciting yet stressful time. If someone attempts to push a boundary or a limit, simply remind them of your wishes and boundaries. We do not have to give in at all.
I truly think deep down that we all desire for the holidays to come with less stress. And this is so doable as we strive to be more intentional!
I hope this holiday season is different and better for you. That you allow yourself space to enjoy the season by being intentional with your time. You owe it to yourself and to others, to do so.
Let's fill this holiday season with joyful moments and memories, good laughs, great stories, and beautiful photos. So much so that the other pieces are just that: PIECES, instead of the main focus. It is not necessarily about giving less, however, it is about giving depth, perception, and focus to what is truly most important and the meaning of this special holiday season.
If you or someone you know needs extra support this holiday season, we are here to help. Simply call the office at 901-232-1956 or submit a contact inquiry on our website to learn more about setting up a therapy appointment today.
Blog was written and images designed by Heather Thomasson, LPC-MHSP, PMH-C
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