So here we are, wrapping up another holiday season. Are you enjoying the time of year? I am. Yet I notice a pattern that comes up way too often. I am very busy at work. Certainly, this has some advantages. I mean, it is nice to be liked, depended on, to feel successful, and so forth, yet it can be taxing as well, especially if we do not make enough time for ourselves. It can be too easy to take on all the additional responsibilities at work because it is the right thing to do, because it feels good, because we think no one else will do it—or whatever we tell ourselves.
The holidays bring with them a number of other things as well. From parties to school performances for the kiddies, neighborhood events, get-togethers with old friends, shopping for gifts, cooking, and so forth, the season can offer so many neat things. I love these things, yet we can only do so much. If you have too much going on, the season may feel too stressful. If you have a lot of people to shop for, for example, the time involved and the financial cost could leave you taxed in many ways.
Yes, these things can help us “feel good.” We are pleasing others—and ourselves—in the fun of the moment and wonder the holidays bring. We want others to feel excited and happy, and can even gain joy in seeing this in others. It can be a beautiful thing. Feeling liked seems to be so important, and believing that someone may not like us or feel sad or hurt if we say “no” to something can be aversive to the point where we sacrifice ourselves in the process. This is not what life should be like, and it is definitely not what the holidays are about.
This is the time to assess what the holidays brought you, and I am referring to more than just the presents. What about the stress and pressure? Were there just too many activities to attend and attend to? Did you feel like you had to do it all? Where does this come from? Now is the perfect time for some assessing of ourselves.
What makes the timing so valuable is here we are at the start of another year, a neat opportunity to scout all the things we may put in our own paths that create and/or grow anxiety. Writing out all the activities and responsibilities the holidays brought is a good place to start. Looking back, we can see if there are things we would have liked to cut back on. Maybe we could have taken a few extra hours for ourselves, as opposed to others or work. Maybe we did not have to say “yes” to every single thing that came up. If you come up with even a few things, know that you have the power to decide for next time. Please believe there will be a next time.
Scout ahead into the new year and things you may do on a daily (or weekly or monthly) basis that maybe you can cut back on or even eliminate. Please do not feel guilty when you choose not to take on everything, as this is what it truly comes down to: Will you choose to overwhelm yourself or set aside the needed time and space for yourself? Think of your stress and anxiety levels and know this is a wonderful way to manage it. You have the power to do it.
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