The holidays are a special time of year, aren’t they? Extra opportunities to get together with family and friends. A focus on love, peace and generosity. Beautiful lights, music and decorations. Memories of childhood Christmas joy. An opportunity to grow your heartspace a little bigger each year.
But they can also be a time of increased stress and frustration. Being overwhelmed by gift-buying and the added strain on your already busy schedule. A time where you are reminded of the dysfunction in your family.
The secret to enjoying the holidays is not to try to ignore or somehow fix all of those stresses. Instead, it’s about reconnecting with yourself, redefining your boundaries, and putting yourself first.
Take Care of Yourself
When you’re well rested, eating healthy, and making time for exercise and relaxation, the world seems like a better place. I know that goes without saying. But for many women, late nights, fast food on the run, and compromising your regular me-time are the norm – especially during this busy season.
Make time to do what you know is good for you. Put it in your calendar and stick to it, knowing that this time you invest in yourself is going to help you experience more joy and manage the stresses of the holidays better.
Let Reality be True
It’s easy to love the good moments. Watching the joy on your child’s face as they sit and talk to Santa. Having fun at a holiday party with your friends. It’s fun, it makes your heart feel good.
It’s not so easy to love the not-so-good moments. Trying desperately to figure out how to manage the number of gifts you have to buy and the budget you have to work with. Spending time stuck in an over-crowded house with family you ordinarily do your best to avoid. And all of the moments in-between that are not what the happy holiday season is supposed to be about.
I’m not going to suggest you learn to love those moments. I can’t do it, so I wouldn’t expect you to. The goal is to just let that reality be true. There is no sense in fighting against what is. Your family is crazy when they get together. None of us have those perfect Christmas days out of a Hallmark movie and it’s OK. Instead of keeping up with the Jones’ (or your perception of the Jones’) keep gift-giving within your means and be OK with that reality. Whatever your stresses over the holidays, odds are that the stress is about what you wish was different about your life rather than what reality is. Make friends with what is true and reduce your holiday stress.
Make Your Own Christmas Joy
For me, the holidays are most stressful when I slip back into my bad habit of trying to make everyone else happy (most often at my own expense). Reclaiming a sense of joy in the holidays meant taking a look at what was most important to me and then making sure it happens. I love pretty Christmas decorations, listening to carols, making crafts, and rum and eggnog :-). I also love looking at Christmas lights, attending parties with people I genuinely like being with and spending hours finding (or making) the perfect gift. I don’t like long lines at the mall, cranky overwhelmed kids, or eating too much junk food over the holidays.
Knowing that, it’s my job to create my own Christmas joy. The first step was getting clear on what brings me joy in the holidays. And then choosing to invest my time in the things that bring me joy as much as possible…and spending as little time as possible in the things that don’t. You can do this too. Saying yes to the things that feel good and no to the things that don’t.
What it comes down to in the next few weeks is choosing carefully how and where you are investing your precious time and energy. Invest it in being fully present in the reality of your life, taking care of you, and doing what brings you joy. You deserve it.