A link to Joanna Doane Ottavio's profile on Psychology Today, where she is verified as a fully licensed therapist in the state of Arizona.
A link to Joanna Doane Ottavio's profile on Online Counselling Directory, where she is verified as a licensed therapist providing online counseling in the state of Arizona.
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Day 3: Creating Your Own Traditions


Welcome to day 3 of my holiday series, Twelve Days of Self-Care. Now that you have taken back your holiday, and maybe examined who you include in your holiday, it is now time to define your own traditions as well. Holiday traditions in the United States include activities like Black Friday, drinking eggnog, decorating your house for the holidays, exchanging gifts, eating pumpkin desert, baking cookies, visiting with friends/family, etc. However, theses traditions are only as enjoyable as the meaning we attach to them. If your holiday season is about running around, hate-buying (discussed in Day 1), then you probably find Black Friday enjoyable. To each their own!


Traditions to Alleviate Difficulties As we discussed in the introduction to this series, for some individuals the holiday season can become about loneliness or grief. Sometimes, regardless of an individual's efforts to redefine what their holiday season means to them, it can still invoke thoughts, memories, or feelings of loss, isolation, or fear. Sometimes this is normal, depending on what you have experienced. This is where creating your own traditions becomes incredibly important. If you experienced trauma around this time of year, create traditions about self-care. Pamper yourself. If you lost a loved one around this time, do something to honor their memory and the connection you had (and still have with them) with them. Obviously it's very personalized.


Non-traditional Traditions It is important to keep in mind there is no "normal" for the holidays. That is a myth that the media seems to taunt us with. You are not "supposed to" spend the holidays with your family/friends. You are not "supposed to" have family/friends to spend the holiday with. Not doing these things in no way makes you "not normal" or "not okay". You are not supposed to have a traditional holiday - you are supposed to have your holiday. For some, the holiday season is a time to get away, doing something they enjoy, alone. The following list includes examples of traditions some individuals enjoy yearly. Note they do not include (because they don't have to) sitting around a fire, drinking hot cocoa with family.


  • Meaning: Quiet & Solitude Camping Hunting/Ice fishing

  • Meaning: Entertainment/Fun Seeing a movie Seeing local, Christmas light displays

  • Meaning: Giving Back Helping at a local homeless shelter Deliver food to families in need

  • Meaning: Self-Nurturing Homemade facial masks Doing nails

Again, define what you want/need the holiday season to be about more you, and act accordingly. Create your own traditions around this meaning.


Warm Regards,





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