If you are like most people the holiday season brings a lot of added stress and anxiety to your life. There is so much pressure to get it right; to have it be perfect (whatever that means).
Let’s face it; you already have a full life. Adding twenty to a hundred new items on your to do list is going to add stress. Between sending cards, shopping for presents, preparing the house, baking, getting a tree, decorating and everything else that is traditionally expected at the holidays it can be quite maddening. I know lots of it is fun and there is joy and all that but it can be challenging to experience the “good stuff” of the season when there is so freaking much to do.
Then add on top of all that spending time with family and friends, one or two who perhaps push your buttons because they are critical or have different political views or any number of other reasons and it can be a recipe for disaster.
The key to getting your sanity back and actually experiencing the joy of the season is communication. Seriously, it’s communication. I know you think it is time management or something else but it’s not. Communication starts with your thoughts and everything you communicate comes from there; what you say, what you do, all of it comes from your thoughts (which includes your deeply held beliefs, attitudes and worldview).
Since you don’t need another thing to do right now I am going to forgo the explanation and just give you some simple strategies that will immediately make things better.
1. Get Clear about what you want the holidays to be like and why (Are you doing things just because your grandmother did them that way? Do you have unrealistic expectations?)
2. Stop shoulding on yourself and others (“I should bake 12 dozen cookies for Johnnie’s school,” “My husband should look forward to spending time with my family,” “I should be able to handle all this myself.”) You don’t like it when people do it to you; stop doing it to others.
3. Don’t assume. Have conversations with the people you spend the holidays with and find out what they want the holidays to be like. Don’t assume everyone wants the same thing.
4. ASK FOR HELP. The Lone Ranger is a myth (and even he had Tonto). Make requests of people to assist you. If they say no, reevaluate whether the thing truly needs to get done. Let go of the crazy notion that for it to be done right you have to do it.
5. Be authentic. If you love the holidays, then love them, however if you don’t love them (or even like them) then that’s ok too. There is no “one right way” to do the holidays. Faking it causes additional stress.
I decided a long time ago to stop decorating my house for the holidays. I am not good at it, I never liked doing it and I hated taking everything down on New Year’s Day. That one decision to stop decorating freed me up enormously. People say stuff to me about it every year. I always invite them to come and decorate it for me. So far, no one has taken me up on it!
Wishing you the kind of holiday you most want!