A holiday can be defined as a day set aside by custom or by law to allow individuals to celebrate or commemorate an event or tradition of cultural or religious significance. And so it is no surprise that as we approach the Holiday Season (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s) people are filled with mix of feelings. The Holidays bring up thoughts of family, memories of past events, traditions, food, gifts, music, and even a sense of purpose. And because of these things many of us look forward to the Holidays. However, it is for these very same reasons that many of us dread or at least stress about the Holidays.

So as we approach the holidays here are some things to help us all manage the expectations, thoughts, and feelings that come with it so that we can maintain our well-being and support others around us.

  1. You have a rights. According to the American Psychological Association, these are your Holiday rights:
  • You have the right to say TIME OUT, anytime you need to. Time out to let up, blow a little steam, step away from the holidays, have a “huddle” time and start over.
  • You have the right to TELL IT LIKE IT IS. When people ask, “How are you?” you have a right to tell them how you REALLY feel, not just want they want to hear. You need to take care of yourself, be attuned to your feelings (P.S. You also have the right to smile and say you’re fine, because telling them how you really feel isn’t worth your time – some people will never understand anyway.)
  • You have the right to some “BAH HUMBUG” You don’t have to be “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” all the time. You are not a bad person just because you don’t feel like singing Christmas carols all day
  • You have the right to DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY. There is no law that says you must always do the holidays the same way. You can send 10 cards instead of 100 – or no cards at all. You can open presents at someone else’s house. You can do without a tree. You can have pizza instead of a turkey. Make up your own rules.
  • You have a right to BE WHERE YOU WANT TO BE. Be at home, or with relatives, or with friends. Be in any city or state you choose. There’s no law that says you have to stay home.
  • You have the right to have some FUN. Don’t be afraid of what someone will say if they see you laughing and having a good time. Laughter is every bit as therapeutic as tears. If you are doing something that your loved one would have enjoyed, think of their laughter and feel their laughter inside of you.
  • You have the right to change direction in MID-STREAM. Grief is unpredictable. You may be all ready to go somewhere or do something and be suddenly overwhelmed, immobilized. When that happens, it’s okay to change your mind.
  • You have the right to do things at DIFFERENT TIMES. Go to church or synagogue at a different time. Open presents at a different time. Serve your meal at a different time. Go to bed at a different time. You are not a slave to the holiday clock.
  • You have the right to REST, PEACE, and SOLITUDE. You don’t need to be busy all the time. Take a nap whenever you need one. Take time to pray or meditate or recharge your spirit – it can do much more for you than eating another big meal.
  • You have the right to DO IT ALL DIFFERENT AGAIN NEXT YEAR. Just because you change things one year or try something different, does not mean you have written it in stone. Next year you can always change it and do it in yet, another new way.
  1. DON’T RELY ON DRUGS AND ALCOHOL. While the prospect of escape can be appealing, substance use can worsen your challenges.
  2. USE YOUR POSITIVE SUPPORTS. Yes, folks tend to be busier during the Holidays, but you can be intentional about scheduling time with those who understand and support you including professionals.
  3. SERVE OTHERS. Serving others gives us the opportunity to change perspectives and get out of our own world. So whether is an opportunity to mentor, or help plow a neighbor’s drive way, or volunteer at church; take that opportunity.
  4. Remember that even though friends, family, society, and business have expectations of you, you have to set REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS of for yourself.

So, as we approach the Holidays, make the time special for you based on you needs, personality, and resources. May these Holidays be “Holy-days” of rest, reflection, and rejuvenation.