Holiday Mindset: How to stay sane during the holidays

Why do I feel not enough during the holidays? Your holiday mindset is important and often an overlooked part of the holiday season. 

The holidays can be a rough time for well, most people.  While there are high highs, there are also confusing lows coupled with difficult transitions.

I’ve found as a type-A person that I always want to be perfect, yes…. But, during the holiday season, there is an added pressure to perform, and please, and the audience suddenly grows wider.

I’m no longer just trying to please my friend or my boss. Now, I am pleasing my friends, my family, my work environment (which is at hyper-speed this time of year), and all while juggling a million EXTRA tasks this season.

With the internet, we have become acutely aware of what our holidays or our lives for that matter, are “lacking”.  We see perfectly-tidy, festive homes with fires roaring and a homemade meal in the oven and think- well, shoot…. I definitely can’t achieve that so why even try.

And let me tell you that exact thought has crossed my mind one too many times during this time of year.

As a visual person, I am especially aware of my aesthetics. And while my outfits may still be on point, I feel everything else just doesn’t quite measure up. 

This insecurity causes a trickle-down effect. It just doesn’t prevent me from decorating my tree, but it also affects my mindset.

Instead of being grateful for what I have, how far I’ve come, and why I’m happy to be in this moment.. The focus shifts to the things I don’t have. The things I should be doing. Or even the things I am supposed to have by now.

The “perfect” holiday is spent doing____________.  We all have some preconceived notion of what it consists of- whether it be a family having a home-cooked meal, a couple in love by the fireplace, or a group of friends gathering together. 

The world around us is constantly beating into us this time of year to DO more. To be more. To have more.

It is consumption at its finest but it is also much more harmful than that.

The holiday mindset that we need more to be happy, puts us on a treadmill that we can never get off from. I’ve been there, and I’ve run and let me tell you= no matter how much you buy, how much you make, your happiness is not guaranteed. Sure, life may get a bit easier, and life may look a bit prettier- but longer-term happiness is not correlated to either of those things.

holiday mindset

So the first thing you have to do for your holiday mindset is to stop.

Stop comparing, stop overspending, and stop scrolling trying to capture those “perfect” holidays someway.

Remember those holiday cards, and those Instagram posts are all just a single second of someone’s lives. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to have a perfect second when you could craft your own life full of joy.

You are essentially wasting energy and time staying on the “comparison” ride. And you will just keep going around and around until you feel completely unworthy.  Get off the ride, and start focusing on your own life.

Second, appreciate what you have in front of you.

I can’t say this enough but do not compare your journey to someone else’s middle or end. You have no idea how long they spent making that holiday meal or perfectly wrapping those presents. Just because it looked effortless, don’t assume it was. And don’t try to compare your journey to theirs.

Think about yourself last year. I bet things have improved since then. Maybe not in the way you had imagined, but you’ve spent a year working hard and growing. By that very logic, you are further along in your happiness pursuits now than you were last year. Be grateful to have another year to try harder.

And if your answer to thinking about yourself last year was heck no, my life is a mess. I get it, I’ve been there. But you don’t need a perfect holiday to improve upon this.  All you need to do is to start.

You know those scary moments in life when someone ends up in the hospital and thankfully they end up being ok. The thoughts that flash into your mind are usually along the lines of “thank goodness everything is ok”.  That is fleeting gratitude.

If we stop and evaluate our lives and our holidays more often, we would start to grow our gratitude muscle and be able to flex it more when we are feeling low.

Third: Focus on yourself, and remove expectations

We all feel lonely during the holidays.  Even when we have a million family members around us.  We are either not around the person we had hoped, or the stress of so many people around us makes us feel insignificant.

I get it- you don’t have to be alone to be lonely.

But the reason so many of us feel lonely during the holidays is because we can’t quite seem to pinpoint why we feel down.  And the answer is much more simple than we imagine, it’s disappointment.

We expect the holidays to be “EXTRA” happy and extra cheerful and extra perfect. And when even one of those things don’t come to fruition, we feel like we are not enough or we did something wrong.

So to avoid feeling lonely you have to remove the internal expectations and avoid comparing yourself to the external expectations.

I’m not saying avoid Instagram forever. But, instead, get out a piece of paper and write a list of all the things you want to happen in your life.  In the next column, write down all the things you are grateful for happening this year.

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Be positive and proactive with your list.  We so often think we can’t put down an achievement if it isn’t the “biggest achievement” we had in mind. But, that is simply not true.  Even if the goal wasn’t finished, making progress is key.

You started a journey, and the holiday season does not need to derail you. Focus on yourself, and your true goals.

And I bet none of you wrote down (as a goal)- have the most Instagram worthy Christmas tree there is.

See? Focus on yourself during these holidays and your goals and happiness will be sustained and even heightened.

So- go into this holiday season with zero expectation and gratitude. If you feel yourself slipping back to comparing and expecting perfection, turn your phone off, take a walk, and remember all that you have worked hard for. Remember all the long hours, remember the days you were stronger than your sadness, and remember most of all that life is a journey.

This is your journey. Don’t waste time making it look like someone else’s.

For more posts on mindset check out my musings.

holiday mindset

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