A Moment of Calm-Connecting with yourself and your loved ones this holiday season

A Moment of Calm-Connecting with yourself and your loved ones this holiday season

While the holidays often mean getting out the sparkly party outfits, twinkly lights, ugly Christmas sweaters, menorahs, and reuniting with your relatives (and their delicious cooking), it can also be a time to reconcile with our relationships -- the ups and the downs. For many of us, this can mean gearing up to face difficult family members or accepting that you won’t be able to see the family members you love. And with the sun going down way before dinner, many of us are more vulnerable because of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). So aside from downing in eggnog, how can we give our lives a little extra holiday cheer without running away from our problems?

1. Celebrate your accomplishments.

Before you think about how you’re connecting to others this year, treat yourself first. No need to throw a party with an inflatable reindeer for this one -- all you need is to figure out and write down everything positive you’ve accomplished. Even if you don’t feel like this year has been much of a success, or even if catastrophic failures marked it, there are probably some tiny successes out there. They don’t need to be conventional, commonly celebrated successes like accepting a prestigious job, learning a new language, losing weight, or traveling to three continents. Learning how to cook a new dish, learn about social issues, make a few new friends, and become a kinder person counts as a step forward.

2. Volunteer.

If loneliness is your struggle, look for volunteer opportunities that’ll have you working in person with other people. It’s not unusual to show up to volunteer projects alone and leave with new friends. The holidays should open up plenty of opportunities in particular, as people feel particularly charitable, and gift-giving is more of a thing this time of year. Common volunteer opportunities include organizing food banks or gift drives for underprivileged communities. Volunteering can also be a great way to strengthen any relationships you think need a little extra glue before the holidays. Reach out to people you know who seem interested in similar causes and send over a local volunteering opportunity.

3. Make handmade gifts and cards.

Even if it only costs $30 to make a batch of handmade cards for your favorite friend group, this can look more meaningful than expensive, trendy store-bought gifts. Handmade items take more effort, generally can’t be found anywhere else, infuse a part of you, and are customized for each person. If your goofball cousin is always sending you memes, give them a homemade card with a custom meme along the lines of your inside jokes.

5. Practice stress-relieving hobbies and rituals.

As a blog generally centered on sleep, we’ve written plenty of tips to help you sleep better. Most of them involve easing stress and anxiety, which are common culprits of the inability to sleep. Aside from getting better sleep, they’ll also help keep you calm throughout the day so you can deal with family members bugging you about your marital status. So from taking up yoga to drinking chamomile tea to buying a better mattress, check out some sports and foods to take up so you won’t be wound up when the fateful reunion comes.

6. Cook some holiday dishes and treats together.

Whether it’s with friends, family, or coworkers, whipping up some sumptuous traditional holiday dishes and drinks like eggnog and scalloped potatoes can be a camaraderie-building activity that only needs a few people. Gather a small team you can see yourself building a masterpiece with and ask them what their favorite holiday dishes are. Just don’t pick something too complicated, risking potential arguments and possibly a food fight. Divide each part of the recipe up and collaborate. Once the cooking’s over, you might have come out with some reawakened or strengthened friendships as well as a delectable dish.

7. Give universally-appreciated gifts.

If you’re expected to see folks you don’t know too well but are in a position where you expect to give them something, it can be challenging to come up with a good gift. Although a handmade gift might be extra-appreciated, you may not want to devote that much time and sweat into something they may not use or even like. So to ease your gift anxiety, give them practical, undecorated things everyone can use and love, such as pillows. While they may not be a fan of rainbow-patterned sequined pillows, a bare memory foam pillow can serve as a plush blank canvas for the pillowcase of their choice. If they live in a hot climate, don’t worry -- Lull pillows are structured with cooling gel polymers on each side to wick away heat. Perhaps the new year will be off on a better foot than ever! The holidays may not be 100% merry and bright, but there might be light we haven’t uncovered yet. Whether it’s within us, within newcomers in our lives, or the network we already have, it’s worth seeking out.
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