I’ve made a list and checked it twice. The rush of the season is feeling more naughty than nice. Where is the merry, goodwill and festive cheer? Will I make it through the holiday season this year!??

In the busyness of the holiday season it is very easy to lose sight of YOUR true meaning of the holidays. Holidays come with so many expectations – both internal and external. Demands on your presence, presents, money, and travel can fill you with a mixture of anticipation and dread. With that familiar knot in your stomach is growing bigger and tighter until it seems like it’s going to move in permanently. Before you get buried under the weight of Bah Humbug; know that there is hope!

When was the last time you took to time to reflect on what is most important to you? Are your traditions still lining up with your values? Are the “traditions” you keep inspiring a true sense of merriness allowing you to anticipate a Happy New Year?

If your answers to the above questions are highlight areas of concern for you; it is time to A.C.T!

A – Acknowledge

Acknowledge that what you’re doing is not working well or is not working at all. An awareness of how you’re feeling is key. Stress (lengthy negative feelings such as being irritable, overwhelmed and/or procrastinating) can be an indicator that you are experiencing your own unmet expectations – that the tinkling of jingle bells sounds more like holiday blues.

C – Consult

Consult those nearest and dearest to you – this includes you!

Create personal “wish lists” that include answers to questions such as: What food items are treasures to remain on the menu? What items can be removed? How much time will we spend with extended family and friends? Will we travel for the holidays or spend it at home? Who will be on the gift list? Will we buy gifts for everyone in the family tree or have a draw?

Be as detailed as you can. This information can help you revise your current planning strategies leaving more time for merriment.

T – Time

Be patient with yourself and others as you make changes. Some may not understand why you’re no longer doing “what you used to do” and may respond with remarks like, “you always bring the jello salad!”

You may experience feelings of guilt related to changing the way things used to be, especially when faced with disappointment from others. Review your personal wish list. Anything that does not ring TRUE for you will be a barrier to your holiday happiness. Be supportive of yourself and others while you make the changes that work best for you.


Take time for self-care. Get enough rest, eat healthily, and exercise. Find your safe place: walks in nature, soaking in a bath, or a pyjama day. Recapture the activities or moments that bring you a sense of calm.

Warm regards for Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to you and yours!

Grace R.A. Howe

Through therapeutic counselling, Grace endeavours to help guide you through the highs and lows of your life’s journey.