As you read the title, some of you might think I am about to suggest a radical decision, such as a vacation in tropical paradise leaving the crazy relatives to their own demise…or perhaps the purchase of an extra special bottle of wine. Nope. Nothing of the such. All such escape tactics will leave us weaker as we seek escape from our stress (which is, in reality, our stressful thoughts.) Instead, let’s consider ways gain a sense of calm and ease, as we enjoy all the culmination of all that hard work and preparation that goes into the Holidays.
We Allow Stress to Limit Our Enjoyment and Ease
Over and over, I hear friends, family and clients complain about the stress of the Holidays. Their attention is focused disproportionately on fear-based thoughts and worries. These worries concern planning for parties, getting the gifts, making others happy, finding time to get it all done, managing children’s behavior, cooking good food, not forgetting someone, weather, money and so on.
The good news is that most of these worries hamper our enjoyment before the important events, such as a party or the time of gift opening. In the moment of these planned and important events, many of us fail to find moments of love and happiness…despite all our hard work and preparation. Thus, here are a few tips for getting through the next couple weeks, with perhaps a bit more joy and ease.
Three Strategies for Letting Go of Holiday Stress
1. Be Brutally Honest: You Can’t Fit It All In
For most of us, we have a busy life before the Holidays. It’s just reality. Then, along come the Holidays and we try to fit everything in. It just can’t be done. One of the major sources of stress is the pressured sense of not having enough time to get it ALL done. Many of us ask ourselves this question, ‘How can I get all this done?’ This is a bad question. In fact, it’s a terrible question!
Why so terrible? Because reality is that our busy lives simply do not allow us to easefully get everything done. We let social media, our friends, our family and our own desires to run wild with influence, adding more and more to the list of ‘to do’s’ until it is simply impossible to do it all. That is, unless we go without sleep for the next two weeks! And that strategy is the very definition of stress!
So instead, let’s choose the more realistic, and calmer truth: You can’t do it all. I suggest you write this down and put it on your mirror to remind yourself of the ‘truth’ every day.
Next, some things are more important than others. Thus, make a solid plan that reflects this reality. This is more than a to do list. This involves investing a small bit of time to create a plan that allows you to abandon the less important tasks in favor of peace and ease.
There are events, gifts and moments that are more important than others. This is for certain. Once we get real, and understand we can’t do it all, then the doorway opens to start planning, and do so thoroughly. The plan should account for things not going perfectly, and almost everything takes more time than we plan for it to take. It could also account for the need to bring in some extra help, as well as delegating some task to the kids who are likely spending too much time doing nothing while you are running in circles. When we become honest with ourselves, we can then develop a plan that works. This alone relieves a huge part of the Holiday tension.
2. Intend to Notice What You Appreciate and Enjoy.
This is a point that I frequently make to my clients, and it often gets abandoned without much investment. But we can use this tool to enhance our appreciation of this beautiful Holiday Season.
Here’s how it works: Whatever you consistently notice, it will grow…both in your mind and in your life. Yet, most of us have problem-seeking perceptions, and we notice more to complain about than anything else.
So, while it takes consistent daily efforts, consider setting an intention every morning to open your heart, put on a loving smile and expand your internal radar to notice every possible moment that you could enjoy and appreciate. Keep doing this. And then, do it more.
After a few hours, you cannot stop the good feelings that emerge within you. It’s just the way the world works.
3. Ignore the Small Stuff…Obsessively.
We give way too much attention to the small, annoying negative stuff in life. So, starting right now, turn this around. Here’s the very complex rule: For the small stuff, ignore it. (And most of it IS the small stuff).
Most of this is simply not work giving up our peace over it. Just turn your attention elsewhere and return to your open heart and seek something you love and appreciate. Don’t make it too complex. Just walk away from the small stuff and seek something or someone to love and appreciate. Get good at this! It will reap huge rewards. And have a wonderful, joyous holiday season.