This holiday 2020 season still seeks to be a joyous time of year even in the midst of a pandemic. Celebration, family, tradition and exchange are but a few traits marking the time in the U.S. between the beginning of November and the start of the new year. As great as the holidays are for some, there is another side to the equation.
This time of the year also comes with its downsides. Overspending and overeating are common pitfalls, but for others much heavier circumstances hang in the balance. Loneliness, anxiety, or even depression may be the most memorable aspect of each season.
For some challenges, permanent solutions are available with discipline and planning. Others can be better managed with anticipation and proper resources available. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, here’s what we know about each holiday season:
- It happens the same time each year
- Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are the major celebrated holidays among others.
- Social gatherings such as parties take place leading up to the holidays
- Increased spending is all but guaranteed during the holiday season
Because enough factors are essentially fixed, there’s plenty we do to help make the holiday season better not only for ourselves, but for one another. Here are 4 major areas we can balance individually and collectively to help make the most out of the upcoming holiday season.
1. Be Financially Responsible
Heightened consumer spending during the end of the year is assumed, and retailers everywhere are looking to capitalize on as many opportunities as possible. Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas are full of deals, markdowns and other discounts on just about everything. Because of this, having a spending plan is the best way to avoid breaking the bank.
Ideally, a budget for holiday spending, and a list of individuals and organizations you wish to gift, or give to should be determined in advance. Everything from major gifts all they way down to holiday cards should be factored in. You should also build a small buffer into your budget for unexpected variable expenses that may arise. With some well done research and a little discipline, completing your holiday shopping goals on time and within budget is more than achievable.
BUYER BEWARE! Steer clear of these circumstances to avoid unnecessary hurdles. Arguably, procrastination if chief among them. Start and finish your holiday shopping as early as possible to give yourself the best chance of getting everything you need. Waiting until the last minute is a sure fire way to get caught with the hassles of product potentially being sold out, or having your items delivered late due to augmented shipping schedules.
Also steer clear of getting lost in the barrage of sales. The temptation for “good deal” spending will be higher than normal as advertisers capitalize on factors such as emotions and materialism. Here are a few questions to ask yourself as moment of pause should you come across enticing, yet debatable opportunities to purchase:
- How am I actually feeling about this right now?
- Can I wait for another time?
- How will I pay for this?
- What will I do with this if I purchase?
- How will this purchase affect other holiday season 2020 plans?
The point of asking these questions is to counteract the initial impulse to purchase by giving yourself time to thoughtfully consider the overall impact of the purchase itself. A small degree of caution will go a long way in helping to avoid holiday overspending.
2. Be Dietarily Responsible
Overconsumption during each holiday season isn’t limited to spending. The time leading up to each holiday and the holidays themselves provide prime opportunity to overindulge on treats of all kinds. Holiday parties, gift exchanges, and religious celebrations are highly likely to have their fair share of foods high in calories and/or sugar, as well as alcohol of various kinds. While you can’t out work bad eating habits, you can certainly plan for times to enjoy yourself.
As with financial preparation, you can take many of the same precautions to ensure you’re able to comfortably enjoy holiday delicacies while avoiding the extra pounds. A little advance planning goes a long way here as well. Here are just a few recommendations to reference as you consider your choices this holiday season 2020:
- Moderation, moderation, moderation! While just enough of a good thing is good, too much of a good thing can turn out bad.
- Eat as you normally would throughout the day. Starving yourself in anticipation of larger meals can easily lead to overeating.
- Drink ample amounts of water before and after eating. This is a great way help you feel full and satiated. Not to mention the added benefits of being hydrated.
- Be honest about your eating habits and account for them. Make best efforts to avoid scenarios you’re vulnerable to, or triggered by.
Of course if someone is eating food, that means someone is preparing food. Considering how your holiday favorites are made presents a large opportunity to help yourself and others avoid extra holiday pounds. Here are a few questions to consider when preparing your holiday favorites:
- Can healthier ingredients be used to make this dish?
- Is this food necessary?
- Are there healthier versions of the food I’m preparing?
- What food alternatives are available?
Being the chef effectively puts you in the driver’s seat, and gives you autonomy over key aspects food preparation. With some well placed intention behind to go along, you can easily prepare enjoyable yet healthy foods and spare yourself the fallout of holiday overconsumption.
3. Be Socially Responsible
A brief examination of each holiday will quickly reveal selflessness toward others, and community not only as common themes among them all, but primary objectives also. As a result, I personally believe it behooves us to engage in a meaningful degree of charity during the holidays. Specifically speaking, such charity should be exercised with less fortunate and vulnerable individuals and communities in mind.
The key here is paying the holiday experience forward to those who otherwise would be hard pressed, or unable to provide it for themselves. For every family who enjoys delicious home cooked holiday meals, gift exchanges and family gatherings, there are individuals who won’t eat, can’t afford gifts, and have no family to enjoy.
Whether donating money, goods, or time, there are several ways to help others during the holiday season. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, here are some commonly utilized methods for charitable giving during the holidays:
- Donate goods to food banks
- Organize or participate in a toy drive
- Spend time with the elderly
- Donate to organizations helping the sick such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation
- Run a race to raise funds such as a turkey trot
- Volunteer time to prepare food or wrap gifts
- Donate winter clothing
- “Adopt a family”
Many of the charitable opportunities available are variations of the ideas listed above. As a past recipient of charitable giving, I can personally attest to the joy and excitement of enjoying opportunities I knew wouldn’t be available without unexpected help along the way.
4. Be Emotionally Responsible
Each holiday season presents significantly stressful environments for different reasons, and getting caught in the smaller nuances is relatively easy. After all, we’re normally bombarded with a barrage of advertising, gift requests, party invitations, traditions, expectations and so on. Despite the perceived pressure the circumstances create, the main takeaway still remains; don’t fear and don’t stress.
There are several ways to help stifle feelings of anxiety or loneliness no matter where you fall on the holiday spectrum. A common theme throughout this post has been planning and preparation. This alone will help significantly reduce potential holiday stress by creating a more stable and predictable environment.
Another resourceful thing to remember is that you’re never alone during this time. Seeking community online or in person with people sharing similar experiences is one of the easiest ways to cope with loneliness. We all have an innate desire for community and belonging. Fulfilling this desire through various avenues such as group settings and active communication with others will go a long way in coping with feelings of loneliness or depression.
Lastly, remember the holidays are ultimately WHAT YOU MAKE THEM. While the pressure may feel like it’s on during the holidays, there are no laws compelling you to meet any specific requirements. Take some time to honestly examine your traditions, expectations and personal circumstances. Chances are there will be room to consider modifying or even changing them altogether. The key to remember here is that ultimately, you’re in the driver’s seat.
The last two months of the year have lots of tradition and expectation attached to them. While some are rooted in the fabric of our being, others can simply be one’s strong desires imposed onto others. Nonetheless, selflessness remains a common theme of the season. A theme we should continue to consider for holiday 2020 and beyond.
#HARDWORKEASYLIVING – Do HWEL For Yourself