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How to enjoy a values-based holiday season

Posted December 18, 2017 by Katrina Wilson M.A. RPC

How to enjoy a values-based holiday season The holidays are a time for gathering with family, enjoying delicious food, and giving and receiving gifts. While it can be filled with joy, laughter, and love, for many of us it encourages a focus on buying, over-indulging, and pleasing others. The holiday season is filled with tradition, and with this comes expectations for how we “should” participate, which can lead us away from living by our values. For many, this creates resentment, dissatisfaction, and a lack of enjoyment in the present moment. So how do we continue focusing on our values in the face of unhelpful holiday expectations?

Getting clear on your values is the first step, as well as how those values may be challenged during the holiday season. There is a strong “other-focus” during this time of year, particularly in terms of giving. We are expected to give our time, money, energy, and effort to others, with very little left for ourselves. Continuing to practise self-care, setting firm and clear boundaries with others who may be asking too much of you, and respecting your own limits can help balance out your focus and bring in the values of assertiveness, honesty, clear communication, and self-care.

Food also gets a lot of attention during the holidays, with special treats and large meals being offered at most gatherings. Here is another area where boundaries may need to be set and assertiveness could come in handy. Choosing to continue focusing on what feels right for you, the signals your body is sending you, and allowing yourself the foods you enjoy can also bring the focus back to your values. Moving away from people-pleasing is hard, but if it is not one of your values it does not have to be part of your holidays!

Related to food is the focus on weight that occurs before and after the holiday season. Many diet in the weeks leading up to parties and family gatherings in anticipation of the food that will be on offer, and then diet again as a New Years Resolution. This is where getting clear on your values, and again, setting boundaries, will be important. Is your body-focus solely on weight and shape? What are your values when it comes to your relationship with your body – how you treat it, listening to it, seeing it as more than its external image? Do you need to step away from conversations that focus on negative body talk or practice assertiveness if someone comments on your own body? These are ways to bring the focus back to your values, rather than the expected values of the holidays.

The holiday season is meant to be enjoyable, however this is hard when you are not being true to yourself. Choosing to live a values-based life means doing so regardless of the season or expectations that surround you. How will you put your values first this holiday season?