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How to Actually Enjoy the Holidays

Updated: Jan 8

Graphic saying "How to actually enjoy the holidays" next to photos of people celebrating

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve explored why the holidays can be hard and how to protect your mental health. Between the financial stress, the family time, and the holly jolly holiday reminders…the holidays can be exhausting. This week, we’ll explore some ways you may actually be able to enjoy the holidays. Keep reading for some quick tips that could possibly save your holidays this season. 

Manage Expectations

It’s easy to want the picture-perfect holiday card, magical Christmas lights, and stacks of presents as we head into the holidays. There is a very small chance things will go perfectly no matter how much you prepare. An easy way to make your holidays more enjoyable is to set realistic expectations. If you strive for the perfect holiday 9.9 out of 10 times, you are going to end up feeling disappointed. Life is imperfect; the holidays are imperfect; allow yourself to be imperfect. Here are a few ideas that could help manage your expectations: 

  • Remember to focus on the most critical aspects of your holiday, i.e., family time, rest, relaxation, and excitement. Focus on what really matters, and any imperfections won’t seem nearly as disappointing. 

  • Make a list of everything that could go wrong…I know, but hear me out! Having a list of what could go wrong could help you understand how unrealistic it is to expect perfection. Also, it couldn’t hurt to have a list of situations that could go wrong to prepare you for when something inevitable goes wrong.

  • Accept the truth of your family dynamic. Understanding that your family dynamics won’t change overnight, even for special holidays, can help you manage your (sometimes too high) hopes. Be honest with yourself. It will go a long way. 

Fill Your Cup First

High expectations are common, and you may be stressed about making the holidays perfect for others. It’s not a bad thing to want to make the holidays magical for your loved ones, but to do that; you may have to do something you’re not so good at….put yourself first! Unfortunately, the cliche of “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is very true. If you don’t pour into yourself, you won’t have anything to give others. Operating on empty inevitably ends up with being burnt out. I’m not sure about you, but my idea of enjoying the holidays doesn’t include burnout. Here are a few ways to show yourself some love to avoid burnout this holiday season:

  • Make time for yourself: listen to a podcast, read a good book, take a long walk, light a candle, and binge-watch Netflix.

  • REST: take a nap, arrange a day to sleep in, and give your body and mind the rest it deserves. 

  • Practice self-love: make a list of all the things you love about yourself, buy yourself a special gift or treat, and repeat self-love affirmations.

  • Put yourself first! Life has a way of making you feel like you have to prioritize everyone over yourself. Reject that idea! Be mindful about your wants, needs, and wishes!

Take a Vacation From Your Vacation

Holiday vacations can be more stressful than relaxing. Keep this in mind while planning your holiday season. Cut your vacation short a few days to have some extra time to relax and unwind before jumping into the new year. Schedule breaks during your vacation to regroup and reregulate. Being intentional with your time can make enjoying yourself over the holidays much easier! 

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

It’s easy to find yourself stuck in an endless scroll of Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok. It's even easier to find your mind wandering into comparisons between your life and those you see on the screen. It’s important to remember, especially during the holidays, that not everything you see on social media is as good as it seems. Everyone has struggles, everyone has bad days, everyone has insecurities. However, not everyone shares the negatives in their lives. It’s unfair to compare all parts of your life to ONLY the good parts of theirs. While it’s easy to envy the picture-perfect Instagram model’s life, it’s important to remember that not even the perfect Instagram model has the ideal life. Be mindful of comparisons, and don’t let them steal your joy this holiday season.

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