Mental Health

Establishing Your Own Holiday Routine

Establishing your own holiday routine isn’t always easy. Sometimes it even takes a lot of effort and planning. In the end, the extra thought is worth it.

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One of the biggest pitfalls of holidays is we follow the routines of others. We go along with what our family is doing, what our friends are doing, or what the public is doing. We adhere to traditions because they are traditions and we feel obligated.

There are ways to honor familiar traditions while creating new ones.

By incorporating more of yourself into holidays, they will retain their special meaning while feeling safer, more/less structured (depending on what you change, to your preferences), and more comfortable.

We don’t have to relinquish all control on big holidays. We can drive the bus. And if that’s not possible, we can at least be the tour guide ON the bus!

A holiday — any holiday – is meant to be a special time. Let’s make it special.

1. Make a list of your top 5 favorite things about the holiday.

Now, use that list as a springboard for your routine.

Do you like snow? Plan some time outside. Do you like the gift giving? Arrange a Secret Santa gift exchange with some close friends. You can even do it online or with pen pals. There are so many unique ways to give presents. Is baking one of your favorite parts? Have a cookie exchange or a bake-off. If spending time with lots of people isn’t your thing, then bake for the people in your life and use the baked goods as gifts. If snowflakes are your favorite part of the holidays, then do a project and make snowflakes to decorate your room or windows.

There are endless possibilities. Don’t get tied down. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.

Consider offering your ideas as suggestions — some of your family or friends might hop on board and join you, but at the very least, you can do these things yourself and have a great holiday.

2. Decide if your ideal time frame for various activities.

This includes starting the day, seeing people, being part of festivities, eating meals, and/or traveling really matches the time frame set forth by others.

Timing can be everything. If your inner clock and personal preferences regarding how you spend the day get thrown off from the beginning, you won’t be a happy camper and the stage will be set for disappointment, resentment, fear, worry, or lack of control.

If the time frame doesn’t fit your needs, tailor it. If that’s not possible, opt out of some of the scheduled events.

Call the shots.

3. Who will you be seeing? Do you get along with them? Do they treat you well? Do you feel welcome?

These are important questions as you embark on holiday travels and are invited to holiday gatherings.

If you feel uncomfortable at all, you won’t be able to enjoy yourself. If you feel out of place, you won’t feel like embodying the holiday spirit.

Examine the situations before you put yourself in them, then act accordingly.

4. Consider giving yourself a special gift.

We give gifts to others, but there are no rules saying we can’t give a gift to ourselves. Is there something you really want? Do you have the financial means to make it happen? Get it for yourself and put a smile on your own face. It could be something as extravagant as a new computer or as simple as a new journal. Either way, if you want it and can get, do it! You deserve it.

Establishing your own holiday routine isn’t always easy.

Sometimes it even takes a lot of effort and planning. In the end, the extra thought is worth it. Don’t get swept up in things that may ruin your holiday. Turn the tables. Enjoy yourself!


Arielle is an MSW, LSW, writer, and blogger. She is a Hospice Social Worker, widow, stepmomma, and wife. She has professional experience with eating disorders, domestic violence, grief and loss. She loves her work, her family, her cats, and her dog! She most often writes about grief, loss, end of life issues, and suicide. Gratitude fuels her every move.


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