WISHING FOR A SIMPLE AND STRESS FREE AND RELAXING HOLIDAY SEASON sadly does not make it happen! So what does? Perhaps too obviously, YOU. You are the first and obvious variable in the equation — the one you have immediate ability to change — with hope for spreading your impact. In other words, if YOU decide on more simple, more relaxing choices and take steps in that direction, your ability to bring others along on the “test run” of a new journey increases dramatically.
Consequently the first step is getting yourself on board with what actually feels possible. The FIRST STEP IS ANALYSIS.
- WHAT do you actually love and enjoy about the holidays? Make a list. Try grabbing a notebook and just jotting down the first things that pop into your head. This needs to be “stream of consciousness”…. and it’s likely truly easy to do. There are wonderful, pleasurable, deeply satisfying aspects of the holiday season. Capture yours on paper. You’ll feel yourself thinking all the way back to childhood…as well as last year. And remember this is the pleasurable list.
- WHAT do you find stressful, even negative and distressing about the holidays? Make a second list! Again, paper and pen is better. The computer just doesn’t connect with your brain in the same way your hand writing does. Again, include experiences from childhood as well as last year. And just write until you feel you have a complete, even exhaustive list.
- WHICH list is longer? Study both of them. Pay attention to what you feel.
- REVIEW THE LISTS FOR POTENTIAL CHANGE! What can you maintain, include, repeat from the love and enjoy list? And don’t under estimate your self. This is likely a third list. In other words, list what you know you want to do, retain, possibly reinstate during this holiday season?
- THE HARD PART is now looking at what could be changed, eliminated, revised from that STRESS LIST. It’s typically hard if you feel you have too little or perhaps NO ability to change a particular tradition or activity. But relax and think carefully about what you might truly do differently. And after you complete the lists then reflect on my suggestions.
SIMPLIFY, EVEN WHEN YOU BELIEVE YOU CAN’T DO IT… WELL, AT LEAST GIVE IT YOUR BEST SHOT.
- SPEND LESS MONEY! You likely haven’t read this early enough to skip things like BLACK FRIDAY shopping. But you could consider checking what you purchased either on line or in a hectic day of physically fighting crowds of shoppers…putting you in an already bad mood– and consider what you MIGHT RETURN. Seriously, see if you truly need what you bought.
- Consider fun and interesting gift alternatives to buying things. 1) MAKE gifts and teach your children to do the same — or propose the idea to friends and co-workers…..even if you believe you have zero skills for doing so. It’s the creative challenge that most people end up enjoying, and kids especially like the idea. 2) choose activities rather than gifts — spend the day outside with fun, athletic activities; do a day of movies; do a day of music; plan a party that includes all ages; 3) consider ONE special gift for the people you typically buy for and make that a LIMIT; 4) give gifts of time and energy to people who are in need instead of to one another and, finally, engage your OWN creative energy for what alternatives might be quite magical — things you will always remember….when the gifts are long forgotten.
The point of the suggestions is obvious: dial down, relax, take the pressure off, spend time with people and activities you truly love and enjoy. The unnecessary stress, perhaps obviously, comes from too much STUFF, too much money spent, too many unwanted social events where you feel the need to show up, too much time and pressure pulling you away from the people and the events you genuinely love.
The baseline idea is you can be more in charge than you perhaps believe you can. You can keep the massive “Holiday Machine” from running over you. Typically the first step is a conversation with your family or the friends you spend the holidays with. Explore the idea of change and be prepared for resistance. Negotiate. Come up with a few new ideas everyone can live with. Explore objections or upset or disappointment. Be prepared for give and take. And keep in the foreground of your mind — holidays are for the joy and celebration of the people you love — and for hopefully some truly relaxing down time …. a celebration of BEING.
You might be surprised by what you can change, and how amazingly healthy the change can feel. The point…..you deserve to feel better, and to embrace what’s good in your life. And if you have questions, you can always contact me. Have a lovely holiday season.