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Dharma Kitchen


Saying No Around the Holidays is Really Saying Yes

Carrie H

In the past few years, I have gotten pretty good at saying no to things around the holidays, if need be.

Granted, I am not saying no to EVERYTHING. I am, however, mindfully saying no to things that I know are going to sap me, my family, or both. To me, it's all a conversation about energy. So much of our energy around the holidays is outward-directed; we are engaging with others a lot more, we are social, we are out and about. We may really enjoy it, or we may feel like we are on autopilot and can't stop the holiday treadmill insanity. In the process, we can be come depleted really easily. There are so many people we want to engage with, but there often isn't enough time for everyone. We do our best, but sometimes we feel bad, because we want to give more and do more, but there is only so much of us to go around. There is a limited supply of energy all the time, but especially this time of year.

 You can say no sometimes around the holidays and just just sit and look at your Christmas tree. 

 You can say no sometimes around the holidays and just just sit and look at your Christmas tree. 

So, we need to become more cautious about what we do with our energy. Does saying yes feel like an obligation rather than something you will enjoy? Does saying no feel freeing? Saying no to getting together with other people, to social obligations, or to hosting events you might normally host—and then telling people that you just don't have the energy—is ok. I am giving you permission to slow down, say no, check out, hang out, do very little as possible other than relax and enjoy yourself. It makes room for spontaneity, too, if you suddenly change our mind and want to engage with other humans. Saying no, in this way, becomes saying yes to yourself and your immediate loved ones. It's saying yes to sitting in front of the Christmas tree with a glass of something festive, doing nothing, one weeknight in December. It's saying yes to watching It's a Wonderful Life for the umpteenth time. It's saying yes to having time to watch the snow fall and then bundling up for a brisk walk in it. It's saying yes to your mental health. If you say yes to attending or hosting things you simply can't muster the energy for, everything suffers. If you are cooking, the food will suffer, too. The whole prep process will be fraught with stress and anxiety. And that bad energy transfers to other people. A kitchen full of stressballs is not a fun place to be. 

In the last couple of years, we have become pretty good at saying no to things that we can't accomplish or do during the fraught, loaded holiday season, and saying "Let's get together in January," and then actually doing it. One of our strategies about the holidays, in order to avoid the inevitable bummer that January sometimes becomes, is to turn the whole perspective upside down and inside out. My husband launches his "January is awesome" campaign every year. We plan fun things to do in January, after the stress of the holidays has passed. And we make time for the reflection and quiet that inevitably surface in January. Incidentally, it is why some people don't like January and it depresses them. (Low Vitamin D levels might have something to do with that, too). To, me, it is a big blessing. It's a time to recharge. It's permission to re-evaluate, and take stock, think, dream and plan. 

So go ahead, say no to something. You can even start small. That's probably more manageable. If you do it, will you leave a comment here, please? That's something you can say yes to, right? Please tell me how it went. How did it feel?