Several years ago it dawned on me that my attitude towards the holiday season was only one of ‘survival.’  Before being treated for bipolar disorder, the Christmas season had been a time of ‘escalating mood’ with a ‘downward spiral’ in January.  When my journey of recovery started, I began to view the holiday season as a time to ‘simply survive’ while closely managing my mood.

My list for survival included things such as:

  • don’t overspend
  • don’t over plan
  • don’t overeat
  • don’t “people” yourself out.

It was a list of don’ts.  For many years that approach worked, but left me wondering if it would ever be possible to actually enjoy the holidays – as opposed to surviving them.

Several years ago I decided to approach the holidays differently.  Instead of seeing them only as a time to ‘survive,’ I decided I would find a way to enjoy them.  And it works for me. For the past four to five years, I can honestly say that I have genuinely enjoyed Christmas!

My ‘how-to-enjoy’ Christmas list still includes some don’ts, but it also includes a list of ‘to do’s,’ such as:

  • be around people that I enjoy
  • savor the sweet moments; be in the moment
  • take time to pray and reflect

To my surprise, the activity that has created the most enjoyment is making gifts for loved ones.  This allows me a quiet creative time for fun and reflection.  It’s my ‘creative play time, ’ and it brings me a lot of joy.  It’s working for me again this year.

Will you be ‘surviving’ or ‘enjoying’ the coming holidays? What are some things you do or could do to bring about more enjoyment into your holiday season?  What works for you?

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

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