Many of us look forward to the holiday season, anticipating a time filled with joy and happiness but, in reality, it can be really stressful. Wrapping up work before the break, the busy social calendar, shopping for gifts and hosting family or visting relatives can take its toll. Where we all wish for a holiday filled with love, sometimes it can be peppered with frustration, stress and agitation. If it’s all getting a bit too much, don’t worry. Below are 7 tips to help you enjoy the festivities feeling cool, calm and collected.
There is a reason why Santa Claus makes a list and checks it twice, because he has a lot to do around the holidays! Keep a notepad and pen by your bed. Use the front of the book to make lists of things you need to do, buy and make (and don’t wait to do them! Start early and you’ll have a much less stressful time). If you find it hard to sleep during the holidays, because your mind is whirring with things you need to remember to do, then you’ll have your notepad at hand to jot anything down. This enables you to get things out of your head, so you can sleep without fear that you’ll forget something important.
Then use the back of the notepad to journal your way through the holidays. Putting your thoughts down on paper, whether they are current or reflective, helps you to look at things with fresh eyes. Journaling is a powerful way to realise your concerns and prioritise them, plus studies have found journaling reduces stress and helps with problem solving.
During the holiday season there is a tendency to want to say “yes” to everything and everyone. It’s a time of giving so we’re more inclined to spread ourselves thin, through helping others, as well as trying to go to all the parties and events. Of course, there is always a part of us that doesn’t want to miss out on anything and, on the flipside, there are some things we have to do even when we don’t want to (that’s just life). But, you don’t have to say “yes” to everything and everyone. Finding the power to say “no” will give you back some control and prevent you from overextending yourself. You may have nothing else planned but a soak in the bath and an early night, but it’s important to take care of yourself during this busy time.
When saying no to an invitation, be kind and be honest – say you can’t make it but suggest getting in an alternative date for the new year when you’re less stretched and can have a more meaningful catch-up. Win, win.
Give People Space
As much as we need to say “no” to give ourselves space, we need to remember that other people need space too. During the holidays we can often end up spending a prolonged period with family or friends and it’s important to respect each other’s boundaries. If someone wants to go out for a walk on their own or wants to spend the evening reading their new book, that’s okay! The holiday season can be intense, but by giving each other space it means that when you do all come together around the dinner table or for a game of charades, you’ll enjoy that time even more.
During the holidays it’s easy to get swept up in feelings of envy, perhaps a longing for a big family Christmas like a colleague has or being able to afford luxury presents like your friend. That is why the lead up to the holidays is the ideal time to practice gratitude, to think about all the wonderful experiences we have had, as well as the people and things we have in our lives. Try listening to this gratitude meditation throughout the holidays to keep you grounded in the moment and thankful for all you have in your life.
Don’t Worry About Perfection
Perfect is the enemy of good. We can all strive for the perfect holiday but that’s putting a lot of pressure and expectation on yourself, your family and your friends. Back in August, our happiness ambassador Mo Gawdat revealed his simple formula for true happiness. When your expectations are equal to the reality of events then you are happy. If the event surpasses your expectations, then you will be even happier! That’s not to say you shouldn’t try to have a lovely holiday but don’t sweat the small stuff or let it get you down if something doesn’t quite go to plan.
Be Aware of Your Reactions
We can’t control what other people do, but we can control our reactions. Let that sink in. If you find yourself getting anxious or stressed because of something that someone else is doing, just take a moment to breathe before reacting. You’re in control, you have the choice.
Remember the Meaning of the Holidays
The holidays are about spending time with your loved ones, take that time and cherish it. This year, try to enjoy a more mindful holiday. 2020 has been a challenging one, many of us spent much of the time unable to hug our families or friends. If you’re reunitied with them this festive season, reconnect mindfully. Cook together, play together, eat together, laugh together, do things that nourish your soul and that leave you feeling full of love and ready for the year ahead.