Happy December! How’s your holiday season shaping up so far?
The Holidays, Traditional (noun):
A time that has religious meaning for some people, and is widely thought of as a time to celebrate family & friends, to enjoy tradition, and to revel in spirit & joy.
“OMIGAWD, I’m so stressed out! AAHHHHH!!”
Okay, I think we have a slight disconnect here.
I often hear this sentiment in my work with people. I hear it all around me, outside of work. I hear it in my own head sometimes! And I definitely hear it more during the holiday season. People even get stressed BEFORE the holidays, thinking about how stressful the holidays will be. What happens here? Where is the disconnect between what most of us WANT for our holidays, and what we end up LIVING?
The holidays, for many, are a time when our already full life becomes even more full, due to expectations, tradition, must-attend gatherings, holiday card-sending, holiday shopping, holiday decorating, tangled and/or non-functioning strands of lights, traffic, crowded shopping malls, etc, etc. During all of this, we also tend to get less sleep, eat less Food Sass®, drink more alcohol, and relax less. And then we wonder why we get sick and feel exhausted!
We’ve created a culture where this stress, and this prevalent feeling of running uphill for 6 weeks, now seems to have become part of how we define our holidays. I literally hear clients and friends talk about “surviving the holidays.” So now the definition looks more like:
The Holidays, Modern Day (cursed noun):
A stressful period of time that we barely survive, where we spend lots of money, stress our budget, try to make everything “perfect,” attend everything we’re invited to, do things because we “should,” and mis-treat our bodies.
Houston, we have a problem.
Here’s the Mind Savvy® bottom line, and I won’t pull any punches here:
The holidays are as stressful…as joyful…as (fill in word) as we make them. As always, it’s truly all about our inner approach.
Truth is, we can opt out of anything, at any time.
And, we can change how we think about it.
Don’t get me wrong. As with all of these things I write about, I struggle with them sometimes too. But, with practice, I get better and better at catching myself when I notice that feeling of frazzlement (new word!) & discontent settling in. And I then (hopefully) take steps to shift my inner approach.
Here’s my invitation. Make a list of what’s stressing you out about the holidays (or any situation). Then follow these:
3 Steps to Less Holiday Stress
- Decide what you have control over and what you don’t. You DO have control over whether or not you attend the big holiday party at the Rigatoni’s house that you just don’t feel like going to this year. You DON’T have control over whether your dysfunctional family is going to say or do things that end up bothering you when you get together.
- Review the things that you DO have control over and mindfully decide if you’re in or out—or maybe in, but in a less time-consuming way. If something is out, just let it go! You can re-evaluate next year. For instance, I let go of sending out holiday cards for 2 years, and then hopped back on when I was ready.
- In doing #1 and #2, now lean into the fact that everything that you’re doing, in relation to the holidays, you’ve chosen. You’re no longer a Holiday Victim. You’re the masterful creator of your own life & experience, and THAT is empowering (and true).
And remember, none of it HAS to happen! If you literally did NOTHING different in December than during the other 11 months, everyone (that matters) is still going to love you, and your life will still be grand.
This year, I’m hosting the holiday celebration for my family. My house will not be amazingly clean and all my plates and flatware will not likely match. My living area will not be off-the-charts bedecked because that’s just not how I roll. We will have yummy food, great wine, fun music, a lovely walk in the woods after our meal, open a few gifts, and enjoy plenty of great conversation, connection, and laughs. No one notices the flatware anyways, and they’ll be too many bodies, dogs, and commotion in my home for anyone to notice the dust bunnies under my couch or my worn floors!
I feel relaxed just writing about it!!
It’s all about changing your mind. Which is what most things in our lives are all about. I encourage you to mindfully try this out on little things first, and then keep expanding it to bigger-seeming things. Maybe use it to enjoy your holidays more.
In addition to letting some pressure off your stress valve, you may also find that when you have less stuff on your plate, you actually have more time to mindfully connect with the people you love in your life. And THAT is the stuff of true holiday Joy!
With love and chillin’ out,