Is the holiday season also one of the most stressful times of the year for you? You spend an inordinate amount of time and money at the shopping malls hunting for gifts that at the end of nobody remembers. You to get the house ready and decorated before the extended family arrives. You live on cookies, coffee and hot cider. Sleep is an afterthought. You feel more and more stressed, irritated and overwhelmed. And secretly you cannot wait for “the most special time of the year” to be over.
This was pretty much how my mother used to prepare for Christmas until she was in her seventies. Only one year, she allowed her children to help her – and herself to not have everything perfect. That Christmas time seemed to have slowed down, probably because we were more in the present. Whether we cooked, ate, cleaned or just sat together, for some reason we all were conscious of the preciousness of each moment. We shared old stories, laughed about each other’s annoying and yet endearing quirks. And at times we just remained silent, listening to Christmas carols and the wood crackling in the fireplace. This was the first time since my childhood that I had felt the magic of the season again. And this was the last Christmas we all spent together, since my parents both died just a few months later.
You may have watched the Christmas commercial of a German supermarket chain. If not here it is – just make sure to have tissues ready. Although a bit controversial, the story tries to remind us, how quickly we can get our priorities wrong. We take busyness as a sign of worthiness. Perfection and consumption replace purpose and connection. The pressure of pleasing others lets us forget the pleasure of just playing together.
The question is: how can we stop this cycle? We can’t just cancel the Holidays or quit our life? Is stress during the Holidays truly unavoidable? Here are a few tips that can help you to make the holidays less stress- and more meaningful:
- Set your intentions: Take some time and think about your personal theme for this holiday season. This could be to appreciate the people that are in your life; to celebrate yourself with doing things you enjoy; or to practice acceptance of those, who used to push your buttons in the past.
- Go deeper: While the holidays are often about eating, drinking and being merry, try to choose a focus that will bring more meaning to you. You could pick a person, who you want to connect with on a deeper level; you could show interest in the lives of others and share more authentically about yourself. Or you may choose to explore your spiritual connection.
- Practice self-care: Just like with my mother, overdoing and over-giving may be a part of your holiday tradition. This year make sure to remember what is important to you to keep your balance and sanity. Nourish yourself with food that make you feel good; exercise or meditate to stay centered and flexible; take some time alone, when you feel overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle. And try to remind yourself, that you can’t make anyone happy on the back of your own depletion and unhappiness.
Listen to my empowerment radio show and learn effective tools, which allow you to stay relaxed, get more done and truly enjoy this special time of the year.
I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season and health, peace and happiness for 2016.