Setting great expectations for your holiday season

Mary Clare Lindsley, PsyD
Mental Health - Outpatient
December 13, 2021

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” so the song says. But if you’re anticipating a more isolated holiday season – and many are, due to the ongoing pandemic — you may not be that excited about the holidays. Sometimes, our expectations about an event can contribute to more stress than the event itself. However, with some awareness and planning, even an unexpectedly solo holiday can still be pleasant and enjoyable.

Set great expectations for your holiday season. Plan ahead for joy. Try something new. Take a creative risk. Be mindful. Engage your senses.

Plan ahead for joy

When we have even small, but fun activities planned, we are much more likely to cope with less pleasant moments. Even knowing that something good is on the horizon helps make the time anticipating the event more enjoyable.

Try something new

Try a new food or recipe. Start a new book or buy a new magazine. Walk through a neighborhood or park you’ve not been to before. Listen to your own curiosity without worrying about what others might think.

Take a creative risk

No one is watching. So, go ahead and try a new medium: paint bad watercolors or write a poem that’s only meant for you. (And let your inner critic take a break, too!)

Be mindful

This can be challenging, especially when we want something to be different. But simply take a deep breath and bring yourself into the present moment. Notice your thoughts and feelings with compassion – as you would for a good friend — instead of self-judgment.

Engage your senses

Right now, what do you hear, smell, or touch? Be sure to include those senses we don’t often think of, such as your proprioception (your sense of where your body is)! These senses make life rich and interesting.

If you find your holiday season isn’t meeting your expectations or measuring up to years gone by, acknowledge your feelings and make the most of the time you have with yourself. You might find yourself creating a new tradition.

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