Three difficult, but worthwhile ways to bring back the holiday spirit while sustaining your sanity
We are between the holidays, and Thanksgiving and Christmas are unusually close to one and another this year. Which means less time to do everything, so we are busier than usual.
Everybody is hosting parties; there is the family, work, and acquaintance obligation. Add to that the gifts, the cooking, the decorations and we all got a schedule that would do better if days would be 35 hours long, but they are not, so we run, we grind and we push and hope that the sugar cookies at the office will sustain our energy.
The problem is something that we all know; after a sugar rush, there is always the sugar crash. We are tired, lethargic, and completely missing the point of the holiday. It is as if we are running a race, and our eyes are set on “make it through the holidays.” We are giving gifts, but we are so tired that it is hard to enjoy the act of giving, we are eating fantastic food, but we are so high on sugar that we can no longer enjoy the flavors, and then the guilt sets in. Too many cookies, too little time, and yup, there goes an emotional crash as well.
To avoid these ups and downs, here are three thing, that are not simple, but if you are able to do, will bring space, and joy back into the holidays
1.) Cut out Sugary food: Cut out all sugar and snacks in between the holidays. You can try to encourage your work environment as well by advocating for no sugar workplace. You can ask folks to please not bring any sugar-containing foods to the office. We can bring fresh fruit, vegetables, and deli plates, but not sweets. This simple step will avoid the sugar-high and subsequent sugar-crash. It prevents the holiday guilt and pounds, and It will also make eating that one slice of pie at the holiday dinner table more precious. By eating desserts only on unique occasions, you will increase your appreciation and decrease guilt.
2.) Postpone hosting some of the parties: Holidays are often one party after another; it is exhausting and often emotionally not fulfilling to run from party to party. With so many people to see, so many places to be, we stop enjoying the process and a mild apathy sets in along with the obligation. Moving some parties to a later time will give you space to truly enjoy the events.
I decided to move the holiday party for my business to the post-holiday season. Spira yoga is a tight community of about 40 teachers and staff, we love to spend time with each other, but I recognize that this time of the year is so busy that hosting a holiday party becomes an obligation. So I wrote a friendly letter to the staff and told them that our party will be in mid-February. By that time, most of us are dealing with the post-holiday emotional crash, so hosting a party at that time is ideal; in late winter, we have the time for it, and we can use a little pick-me-up through the community.
3.) Postpone invitations from acquaintances - don’t get stuck in FOMO…: Fear Of Missing Out; yes, it is an actual physiological condition of our age. With social media showing us all the places to visit, and all the friends we should have, consciously or unconsciously, but we often get stuck with trying to keep up with the images. Our lives are full of people that we hardly know and feel there is an obligation to keep up appearances; we smile, we post pictures, we get together in restaurants that we should visit…
Of course, there are different levels of relationships; family, deep friendships, acquaintance friendship, and work relations and friends. We need all kinds of connections to make our social life function. But often we try to sustain, with great energy, the relationships that are “lighter” on the social scale while we neglect our deep meaningful relationships. Lighter relationships are often more superficial, but also less challenging, so it is easy to get caught up in being busy and hanging out.
The holidays are the perfect time to ask the question, which relationships support my “soul”? That is not the same question as; where do I have the most fun? Soul connections are those with family and friends that allow you to grow in character, to be vulnerable, to be imperfect, and these relationships sustain and deepen through tough times. Yes, it is the irony of relationships; we all want to have perfect, peaceful and harmonious relationships, but tough times put us through the test by making us more vulnerable and thus more real.
It is overcoming adversity that creates deep bonds between humans. During the holidays we should focus our attention on these soulful and meaningful relationships, even if they are less fun; in the long run, these are the connections that survive and give meaning to our life.
Of course you never know when an acquaintance turns into a close friend, so you don’t want to push people away; just postpone. Simply write; “Dear so and so, I would love to get together, but the holiday season is so busy. I would like to make a meaningful connection and get to know you better, how about we get together in February?” and actually offer a specific day and time. By offering a specific date as an alternative, you are signaling respect and interest, unlike when you leave it open-ended it feels like a brush off.
Writing a note may seem like extra work, but in reality you will be restructuring your social life to be more even throughout the year, and thus you are freeing yourself up for both time for yourself and quality time with others.
So take a little time to cut back on sugar, prioritize meaningful relationships, and reorganize when you see acquaintances. I promise, there is nothing sweeter than spending time with your loved ones while eating your favorite pie without guilt or exhaustion.
Dora Gyarmati teaches yoga and mindfulness classes. She owns Spira Power Yoga in Issaquah and West Seattle. Her company M3Bmethod also lectures on resilience and stress management to corporations, communities, and hospitals.