Are you feeling what I’m feeling? Like this year is quickly coming to a close, and the hustle and bustle of yet another holiday season is already upon us?!
Whatever your personal beliefs are about this holiday season, most people agree that the overall intention is to celebrate life, connect with loved ones, and possibly exchange gifts.
As uplifting as all of this sounds, most people also agree that this particular holiday season comes with a lot of unnecessary stress from so many commitments and obligations, which can easily get in the way of our enjoyment.
In a society where over-commitment and over-buying are the norm, it’s way too easy to find yourself stressed out and exhausted, and feeling like you have no choice.
And if you’re currently struggling with your romantic partner and/or family members with whom you’ll be celebrating, that just seems to add another layer of pressure! But the good news is, there are some simple and practical ways to reduce that stress, and actually enjoy the blessings this season offers.
The Power of Reminders
You know how you set up reminders for yourself about priorities that need your attention? Whether they come in the form of a to-do list, a timer for something that needs to come out of the oven, or an appointment in your calendar, these reminders help you stay on track with priorities that you might otherwise forget.
So, for starters, an excellent way to help yourself move from stressed to blessed is to remind yourself as often as possible about the reason for this season. Celebrating life and connecting with loved ones can be a beautiful experience if you so choose.
Even in difficult situations – such as a partner or not so favorite relative sharing an opinion that you don’t like, or doing something that feels thoughtless – you can take a deep breath and remind yourself that you can consciously choose harmony over conflict, and release the need to disagree and the stress that comes with that discord.
By human design, differences of opinion are normal, but we often run into difficulties when we take them personally or feel a need to defend our point of view. By choosing to remember that, underneath it all, we all have the same essential needs, we have an opportunity to practice compassion instead of judgement…for ourselves and others.
Only Say Yes When You Mean It
Another strategy to lighten your load is to commit only to the things that you really want to do. You may receive invitations to several different parties, but you don’t have to say yes to all of them.
You have every right to say yes to the ones that sound fun, and no to the ones that don’t. If someone judges you for saying no, that’s their choice. You do not have to take this personally or be bothered by it…and neither do they!
And when it comes to buying gifts, if you’re not genuinely happy about buying gifts for certain people, then simply don’t. Buying a gift out of a sense of obligation defeats the purpose anyway, right?! Give yourself permission to be authentic with your choices.
Or, if you want to change your extended family’s current practice of exchanging gifts, talk with them and explore other options you can agree upon.
A few years ago, my siblings and I agreed to no longer exchange gifts with each other (like we had been for years), but continued buying gifts for our parents and the children in the family. This ended up working out much better for everybody, relieved unnecessary stress, and made the season more enjoyable.
‘Tis the Season
Another helpful thing to remember (and take advantage of) is that this time of year is not just about the holidays – it’s also a season of moving from the current year to a new year, longer hours of darkness instead of daylight, and colder weather that keeps you inside more.
By design, life’s cycles give us seasons and opportunities to slow down, reflect on our circumstances and how we’re currently showing up, and be open and willing to learn how we can expand our expression of life into something even greater.
Much like a romantic relationship, life should not only be lived, it should be celebrated. Your relationships and your life are not meant to just happen without you taking part in their journey. They’re meant to be lived with purpose and joyful participation. We’ll be talking about this more in the next mindful message.
Be Good to Yourself
As you move through the next few weeks, be mindful of your habits and pay attention to how you’re feeling. When you feel irritated or stressed out, take note of how you’re influencing that circumstance, and remind yourself that you have the power to change your approach with grace and ease.
When you feel content, at peace, or joyful, take note of how you got there, and be willing to do it more often.
It’s all too easy to blame the bad driver, the rude shopper, or the unattentive partner for your frustration, but that would mean they have more power over you than you do, and that’s simply not true!
Treat yourself the way you want to be treated by others. Appreciate yourself the way you want to be appreciated. Love yourself the way you want to be loved. You always have the power to change your life for the better, no matter the current status of your relationships with others. So focus on the relationship with yourself and make it the best it can be!
And remember that you have the ability to lighten your load of holiday stress by choosing to focus on the many blessings of love and life. That’s what so much of this season is all about, and I hope you’re able to enjoy it to its fullest!
Stay tuned for more mindful messages and other valuable resources – giving you helpful insights, tips and exercises to improve the quality of your life and relationships!
With love and support,
Healthy Relationship Coach