Thursday, November 30, 2017

Happier Holidays: How to Experience Less Stress and More Joy

1. Be Purposeful and Intentional About Celebrating the Holidays

This will enable you to be proactive and in control of how you operate during the holidays.  Therefore, determine the following:
  • What spiritual principles and values you wish to honor (i.e. generosity, charity, family togetherness, personal reflection, etc.)
  • What religious meaning the holidays have and the related traditions and activities you wish to observe 
  • How you wish to feel during and after the holidays      

2.  Ask For and Accept Help From Others
Recognize that it may be far easier to accomplish some of the time and energy consuming tasks with assistance from others.  This may also be an opportunity to strengthen relationships by recognizing the talents and contributions of others.
Examples may include:

  • Hosting a tree trimming party and each guest, who assists, gets a special ornament as a gift or everyone goes out together for a meal.
  • Having a holiday bake-off, during which the participants get to showcase their specialties. Share the creations with each other, so that everyone has a variety of treats to take home.
  • Requesting others to help you prepare for guests (i.e. home organizing, decorating, other tasks, etc.) and offering to return a favor at a later time.

3.  Recognize That The Holiday Season Comes With Additional Demands
The celebrations, decorating and hosting tasks, cooking, shopping, etc. are in addition to our already busy schedules.  Therefore, it is important to consider this in terms of managing our time, energy and resources, as follows: 

  • Taking time out for a break; getting some down time during the season; making time for personal reflection
  • Being mindful and exercising moderation about holiday eating and alcohol consumption.  Refrain from being excessive and remain in control
  • Being realistic with planning and allotting time and energy for holiday tasks (along with regular routine) during what is a fairly short period of time 

4.  Acknowledge That The Holidays May Trigger Pain
If you have experienced distressing life events, such as the death of a loved one or other losses (i.e. loss of a job, divorce, relationship breakup, etc.), it makes sense that you may not feel very joyous or energetic.  
Therefore, it is important to:

  • Give yourself the time and space to grieve your losses.  Grief is a healthy and necessary process
  • Reach out to your social support system for comfort, if you are lonely, sad and hurt
  • Validate your feelings, which are reasonable in light of the negative life event.  Look forward to feeling better eventually.

5. Be Okay With Saying "No"
Saying "no" is a way to set healthy limits and boundaries, so that you can prevent feeling overwhelmed and effectively manage the holidays.
To accomplish this:

  • Let others know what you are and are not willing and/or able to to. This frees both of you up to move on
  • Trust and listen to your "gut" regarding whether a request is beyond your comfort, energy and resource level
  • Instead of saying only "no" or "yes", consider responding to a request with "not at this time",  if you can reasonably fulfill the request at another time (perhaps after the holidays)

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