It’s that time of year when things seem to be speeding up, but you may have this deep longing to slow down and hibernate. Yeah, I feel that too. This is my first Christmas in Malaga (actually my first in Spain!) and I didn’t know what to expect. Was it going to be as consumer heavy as back home? Would I be frantically bouncing from parties, dinners, events, and festivities throughout the month? Would life just feel completely insane or would Malaga have a more relaxed rhythm for the holidays? 

So far it hasn’t been as jam-packed and busy as back home. Yes, I have dinners and parties to attend, but it doesn’t seem to be over the top. Yes, consumerism is apparent here, but again not like back home where the store hours have changed for the month so there are more hours to shop, and constant advertising to buy more seems to be everywhere you look. Overall, it feels less stressful and I’m grateful for that (although it doesn’t feel very Christmas-y without the snow!).

I know you may be having a different experience though. This season can bring everything up but joy and peace. Many of us are feeling anxious, lonely, stressed, burnt-out, and overwhelmed. I reassure you that you’re not alone if this is your experience during this time. I hope to offer some tips that will support you during this season to hopefully add a bit more joy, ease, and contentment. 

  1. Identify your anxieties: Make a list of anxieties, expectations, and those things that bother you during this time. Maybe it’s all the gift-buying and overspending. Or having to say yes to everything you’re invited to. Empower yourself and think about what you can change and say no to. What boundaries can you place to help you experience this season with less anxiety and stress?

  2. Meaning and priorities: The meaning of what this season is truly about gets lost in the advertisements, expectations, overspending, and hustling and bustling. What is really important to you this season? What do you want the holidays to be about for you? What feelings do you want this season to be about? 

  3. Self-care: This can be placed on the back burner at this time of year. How can you fit in the gym when you have a mile-long list of gifts to buy. What are some ways you’re taking care of yourself during this time? Knowing it’s a busy time, what feels doable right now to support your overall health and well-being? Maybe it’s making sure you get enough sleep, eating nutritious foods to support your immune system, taking your supplements, and drinking plenty of water. Do what feels doable and supportive for you.

  4. Practice contentment and gratitude: This time of year it seems to be more about consumerism and focusing on all those things we don’t have. How about instead we focus on those things we do have. Contentment and gratitude are connected. When we practice gratitude throughout our day, we feel more content. We don’t feel like we are lacking and needing to buy more, because we are focusing on all those lovely blessings we already have in our life.

  5. Slow down, connect, and stay present: Remember the best present you can give someone this holiday season is your presence. So let’s slow down, put our phones away, and pay attention to what and who is right in front of us. Most likely when I asked what is most important to you this season (#2 tip) your favorite humans were on that list. How can you be more present with them and show them that they matter to you during this busy time of year?

I know this is all easier said than done. But even choosing just one thing from this list could support you a bit more this holiday season.

We don’t have to end the year feeling stressed out, exhausted, and ready to fall over while dragging ourselves into the new year. We can do it differently this season.

You may need to say some uncomfortable “no’s” (FYI….setting boundaries is never comfortable), lower your expectations a bit (the perfect holiday doesn’t exist and you miss out on all the greatness right in front of you), and go against the grain a bit to experience this holiday season in a way that works well for you, but it’s completely worth it.