For many, the holiday season is a time of stress, filled with expectations about family togetherness and many choices about how to spend your time and money. There are just so many things to do, and a limited time to do them in. If you find yourself feeling more frazzled than festive during this season, use these 5 simple steps and you’ll be filled with holiday cheer in no time.
Make a List and Check It Twice: List all of the holiday tasks you’ve performed in the past. Ask yourself, “Is this something I want to do, should do, or must do?” If your answer is “should”, chances are this isn’t a necessity and can be eliminated altogether or be delegated to someone else. Then take a look at your list and determine who you can delegate some of your “must” tasks to. Invite family and friends over for a decoration party, hire a cleaning service or get your festive dinner catered. There is no rule that says you are responsible for getting everything done this holiday season.
Change Your Expectations: Often times we find that our expectations are unreasonable or maybe stem from past traditions that are no longer appropriate given our life circumstances. By questioning all of our “should” statements about our obligations this holiday season we can change our expectations and thus reduce the load we place upon ourselves. Creating realistic intentions and letting go of expectations (like making sure everyone is getting along, for example), is the most important thing we can do to maintain balance and a sense of peace.
Take Relaxation Breaks to Let Go of Tension: Be sure to have down time to restore yourself. Whenever you notice you are getting stressed or anxious, simply stop and pause for a moment, take in a deep breath and slowly exhale. When our breath is our guide, we are able to release any tension we may be carrying. Use spare moments throughout the day to breathe away tension or to recall pleasant images and memories that will help soothe you. These relaxation breaks will leave you refreshed and ready to cope with the pressures of the holiday season.
Care for Your body: Holidays often equal too much fat, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, and not nearly enough sleep and exercise. Pay better attention to your body’s need for healthy food, exercise, and sleep during this intense time of year. Make a daily schedule now of when and how you’ll exercise and figure out what supports you’ll need to stay committed. Be careful not to overindulge in those holiday treats and do your best to maintain a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
Balance Spending Your Time and Money: The holidays offer many temptations to spend both your time and your money. Be mindful and pay attention to what you really want and need. You may find yourself making choices that offer deeper satisfaction instead of instant gratification. When you find yourself faced with a spending choice, take a deep breath, relax, and ask yourself, “What choice will truly improve the quality of my life and that of others?”
So much of the holidays center on outward, physical, sensory experiences — the brightness of the lights, the mobs of people at the malls, the smell of roasting foods, and the sounds of caroling voices. Partly because of this, the deeper, more spiritual meaning of the holiday season can become lost in the shuffle. Take time to reflect on this meaning. Chances are you’ll gain a better perspective on how to organize your holiday priorities.