The start of the holiday season is an exciting time for many. But what brings happiness to some may cause consternation for others. Whether it’s because of too many expectations or general winter blues, emotional struggles during this time of year are common. To help maintain merriment, The Calli Institute offers tips to find peace and joy this season.

Funding Your Feast

One of the biggest reasons to get together with family and friends for the holidays is to eat, right? Sharing a special meal together is a significant social event, and holiday dinners are steeped in tradition. But this year is shaping up to be a little different, and this could cause panic if you’re playing host.

You may have noticed some items missing from grocery freezers and shelves because of disruptions in the supply chain. Turkeys, especially, are in short reserve. As supply goes down, prices often go up. And that could mean paying a lot more for the components of your traditional holiday meal.

So, maybe this is the year you change things up a little. Drastically switch up the menu and make homemade pizza or have a pasta bar with fresh bread and salad. Better yet, make your holiday feast a potluck, where each guest brings a dish to share. This will take some mental, temporal, and financial pressure off the host while still allowing for a cohesive meal.

And remember: Every dish does not need to be homemade. Cooking for the holidays can be stressful, too, so go easy on yourself. Also, your feast isn’t required to have a litany of side dishes. Keep things as simple as possible and enjoy the food and the company. Feed your soul.

Change the Touchy Subject

Few things ruin a happy holiday like discussion of a touchy subject. Some things shouldn’t be talked about at the table – or elsewhere during the holidays. You know the drill: Don’t discuss politics or religion, right? Other topics to avoid include family drama, money, dietary choices, and the lifestyle choices of others.

Avert animosity and bickering by politely changing the topic to something more lighthearted, such as:

  • All kinds of entertainment. Find out who’s binge-watching what and get ideas to add to your must-watch list. Talk about recent great reads, the year’s best music albums, or a favorite new movie.
  • Food, old and new. If your holiday feast is time-honored, find out about family recipes or traditions. Talk about a favorite dessert or the new local restaurant.
  • Giving thanks. We can agree that there are always things for which to be thankful, so have each guest mention one (or more) thing(s) for which he or she is grateful this year.

Quieting Internal Noise

You know that voice in your head that’s telling you to work harder or faster to make things perfect for the holiday? Simply tell it to hush. Don’t let holiday traditions – be they preparing the perfect meal, decorating every part of the house, or spending your next few paychecks on gifts – pressure you into an established obligation.

Learn to be okay with creating new customs that cause less (or no) anxiety. Accept that the house might not be the gussied up to resemble the holiday postcard from movies and TV specials. And don’t go broke trying to buy all the perfect gifts for everyone.

Instead, focus on the reason for gathering. Find motivation from the spirit of the season, from the love for yourself and for others, and from sharing this time with family and friends. Remember that the most important things – the love of family, the time with friends – don’t come with price tags.

And if that same internal voice tells you to hurry and clean up after your holiday dinner, simply ignore it. The dishes can wait, and the clutter will still be there in an hour or five. Deal with it then – later.

Take the time after dinner to relax with your guests, sharing stories and laughter. Play a game or go for a walk together. Stretch your legs and make room for another slice of pie. You are together for a reason, and that’s to enjoy one another’s company. Don’t let the holiday mess dictate your day or your happiness.

Have Realistic Expectations

The easiest way to find peace and joy this season is to have realistic expectations. Know ahead of time that the day won’t be perfect. Someone may forget a dish, or the green beans might be too salty. Maybe you’ll have three of the same kind of dessert. Someone could spill the cranberry sauce or burp at the table.

Whatever happens, your holiday is bound to be perfectly imperfect. Embrace those imperfections and know that they’re the things that make the day unique. Set yourself up to have a day without any predetermined expectations of idealism and enjoy each moment as it plays out.

Try to Keep External Noise to a Minimum

The holidays are all about enjoying time with others – or at least they used to be. Try to get back to that feeling of togetherness and fun. If you’re able to keep things simple, expect the unexpected, and focus on fellowship, you may be able to find peace and joy this season. But let’s say the external noise becomes too much, and you need some guidance to regain stability. The Calli Institute is just a call away. Our approach toward wellness empowers you to manage stress and invest in self-care. Reach out to us today. We’ll help you get through the holidays – and beyond.

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