The holidays are my absolute favorite. Christmas is always festive and heart-warming with welcome nostalgia of families huddling over the Christmas tree. Equally beautiful in my eyes is the New Year. Not because it’s noisy or literally crackling but because the idea of the New Year equates to that of a fresh start. Like a blank notebook or a new planner, the New Year is full of promise in my optimistic eyes.
Christmas Day has come and gone and though I hope you made the most of it by spending time with your family and being merry, here’s my personal list of how to make the most of this holiday season that hopefully carries over to 2016.
Take An Actual Break
Admittedly, in this day and age, we refuse to disconnect. Throughout the year, holidays and weekends are spent working, answering emails or at the very least, thinking about work. Vacations are welcomed with “Sorry to bother you, but” messages and it seems like to-do lists carry over whenever and wherever you go. This holiday season, take time to really disconnect from work and be fully immersed in the present. This goes for social media as well. Oftentimes, moments – both big and small – are seen through a screen and memories go through multiple filters, adjustments and cropping before they are inevitably posted online with the barometer of the moment becoming the number of likes or its engagement and not how it made you feel. Nothing annoys me more than people on their phones during dinner when you’re trying to make actual conversation. We are too busy documenting our lives to truly enjoy it. This season, take a break from all the noise and the distraction and be truly present. Real heart-warming moments are much greater than heart-emoji comments. Offline really is the new luxury.
Evaluate Where Your Life Is Headed
It’s only logical that the end of the year connotes a call for introspection. If companies laboriously do year-end reports annually, it’s only right that we also take a look at our personal lives and evaluate what we’ve done to reach the goals we set for the year. Did you get to start your passion project? Did you paint more? Did you actually push through with that gym membership? Be true to yourself and acknowledge if you’ve strayed a bit along the way. But also, acknowledge your wins. Maybe you didn’t end up quitting your job because you’ve been reassigned and promoted instead. Maybe you discovered a new passion or did something brave and face your fears. Include those as well. More importantly, don’t end with a mere evaluation of your goals and yourself. Set goals for the coming year. A friend who gives productivity and goal-setting tips (at arrianeserafico.com) gave sound advice: have a theme for the year. So decide what your 2016 will be. Is it your Health & Wealth year? Is it #BodGoals2016? Writing resolutions is absolutely therapeutic for me, but you don’t have to go into all the little details if writing down resolutions induces more stress than a sense of direction. All you need to do is write down an over-arching goal and jot down a few ways to achieve it.
Spend Time With People Who Matter
Here’s the clincher. Everybody says the holiday is the season to spend time with your family. But “family” can mean more than just your relatives. It doesn’t matter if the people you consider family aren’t blood related, keep the people you love close this season and make sure they know how much they mean to you. Trust me, a loving support system is much greater than forced, faux relationships in reunions you have to painfully sit through (but if it would mean the world to your folks then plaster on a smile and mingle). Give thoughtful gifts if you can or just send people a sweet Christmas message. Carve out dinners to meet up with friends even if it means having to come out of your introverted shell daily for the rest of the holiday break. People keep getting busier by the year and it’s always nice to feel important to someone you know is busy by them spending time with you.
Indulge Minus The Guilt
I don’t think a lot of people would agree with this kind of thinking but if we worked hard the entire year and were good people then I think we deserve to treat ourselves. Now whether treating yourself means eating ice cream and cake each time it’s offered or buying yourself that bag you’ve been eyeing, “I deserve it” is a completely acceptable justification, not that you even have to justify being kind to yourself. Santa’s whole premise is giving gifts to children who have been nice so it’s only natural to become your own Santa as you foray into the world of adults (read: bills and taxes.) So if you’ve been needing a push to indulge, take this as a big green light.
Take The Time Off To Travel
Having everybody have the same days off is a rarity so take this chance to getaway with your loved ones (see number 4). Plan a trip or a long drive and make the most of out the days left. Traveling is such an amazing way to bond and grow and any opportunity to do so should be taken. Spend the New Year’s in Baguio or do a weekend at the nearest beach with the whole family. Maybe strip down to basics and camp out complete with s’mores, grilling and tent pitching. Better yet, explore a new city or a new country and take a flight somewhere near. A personal favorite is spending Christmas break in Israel and going to the sites of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and then a walkthrough of his life in different parts of Jerusalem. It’s honestly the best way to remember the real reason for the holiday celebration.
Make A Conscious Effort To Do Good
It sounds like a given but a lot of times it’s not. A lot of times we’ve been taught to be on the defense and think about ourselves at all times. Defensive driving, making sure we don’t get mugged by carefully eyeing suspicious people in the parking lot and by looking out after ourselves and counting our own accomplishments in case snarky officemates start taking credit for work we’ve done, or much worse, throw us under the bus, are just some of the ways we are on the defense. We’re trained to be on guard and suspicious. This season, let’s not forget to be a little kinder. Actually, let’s make a conscious effort to be nice. Let’s forgive people who’ve done us wrong and not go off on someone who made a mistake. Let’s even let that overtaker overtake even if ordinarily we’d honk until their ears (hopefully) hurt. Also, let’s take time to remember those who are less fortunate by reaching out. Bring extra cash when you go to church to give to a street kid outside. The favorite advice I’ve seen online was to get a bag you don’t use anymore and fill it with necessities like soap, food, medicine to give to a beggar you see on the streets while in traffic. There are so many ways to be extra generous this season and consciously trying to be will hopefully become a habit. Can you imagine if everyone was kind while driving? EDSA would be a much better place.
‘Tis the season to be merry. And ’tis also the season to take a good look at your life and do those you’ve always wanted to do. Let us know what other ways you’re making the most of the season. We’d love to add to our list!