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The Season for Self-Control

One of the hallmarks of our National Heritage Academies curriculum is a monthly moral focus. We’re serious about offering a competitive education in a supportive environment, but we go the extra mile to talk about issues that impact your child’s heart too. Each month, we spend time highlighting the characteristics of a particular moral attribute, and December is all about self-control.

Compared to most countries in the developing world, the United States is known for our penchant toward excess — especially around the holidays. We tend to overspend, overeat and overcommit. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend $465 billion on gifts and goodies this Christmas — an average of $700 per person. And while there’s nothing wrong with gift giving — or getting — perhaps we could all benefit from a little extra self-control this time of year. And just think of all the time, calories, money and effort we could save if we indulged a little less…? Here are a few practical ways to demonstrate self-control this holiday without feeling too much of a pinch:

  • Eat a high protein snack before you go to a holiday party. You’ll be less likely to lose control in the buffet line if you snack intuitively before you go.
  • Determine your shopping budget before you start, and stick to it. The majority of people do not have the luxury of shopping to their heart’s content. Determine what you can reasonably spend and don’t overextend yourself.
  • Resist the urge to buy a gift for yourself each time you buy for someone else. It’s super easy to fall into the “one for you, one for me” trap when we find something we love. Be extra aware of how this tendency can add up.
  • Purchase “family” gifts for loved ones, versus individual gifts for each family member. Did you know you can buy a projector and portable screen on Amazon for $100? Think of the backyard movies you could enjoy! We love ideas like this because it’s something everyone can enjoy together, and you’ll probably spend less overall.
  • Consider buying experiences rather than things. Museum or zoo memberships, tickets to musicals or performances, gas cards, gift certificates for manicures/pedicures, etc.
  • Simplify your decorating. It may be family tradition to display a Christmas village, but what if you put out less buildings this year? Would it be the end of the world if you didn’t decorate outside? If these feel like big leaps for you, maybe just give them a try this year and see how you feel.
  • Think about saying no. Sometimes it’s not that we’re doing too much — it’s that we’re doing the wrong things. Even if it feels like you’re disappointing someone else, self care is important. One of the best forms of self-control is knowing your capacity and respecting it.
  • Focus on relaxation and connection. How many times have you arrived at January 1st and felt like the entire holiday season was a blur? This time of year is supposed to be about peace on earth, good will toward men and spending time with those who are most dear to you. The more self-control you exercise in the other areas of your life, the most energy and time you’ll have to invest in the things that matter most.