While the holiday season can be joyous fun and exciting, many people equate it with stress, chaos and expense in terms of time and money. Here are some tips for changing holiday madness into the season of serenity.
1. Practice conscious breathing exercises now ten minutes a day. This will keep you calm and relaxed through the end of the year. Any time you feel overwhelmed or stressed, taking a few deep breaths will help you separate mentally and emotionally from the stresses. This is particularly helpful when dealing with demanding relatives, friends, or coworkers who want you to come to their house or – worse! – go to yours.
2. Make a list of everyone you need to buy gifts for. Buy everyone gifts from the same store (e.g., bath and body lotions, candles, books), shop on the Web from one mall site, or buy everyone magazine subscriptions. Get a couple of extra gifts with blank cards so you won’t be embarrassed if someone you forgot or don’t like buys you a gift.
3. Schedule your activities in advance. Break projects into small steps so you won’t feel like a failure if you don’t get the whole project done. It’s easier to berate yourself for one small failure. Actually, to do lists that are workable gives you more of a sense of control. Have pot luck meals so you don’t have to do all the cooking. You can always dine out every day and worry about credit card debt next year.
4. It’s okay to refuse invitations, particularly from friends and family who create stressful environments for you. Forcing yourself to spend time with them will only interfere with your serenity. The holiday season is only once a year. Why should you be miserable?
5. Let go of the things you can’t control. If you do accept those stressful invitations, remember you can’t control the behavior and attitudes of those people around you. You can’t control their drinking, smoking, eating or inappropriate remarks. Its not your fault if your first cousin loudly insults the rest of the family. This is the time to remember your deep breathing exercises.
6. Stop comparing yourself to other people. This will kill any chance you have for holiday serenity. Think about how you want your season to be, what you want to do, and how you want to feel on any particular day. Then focus on making that happen for yourself. When you find yourself comparing yourself to others, remind yourself that they may look perfect but they’re all probably miserable inside.
7. Schedule some time in your appointment book to be alone. When you consciously plan to have alone time, it keeps you empowered and reduces possible feelings of melancholy during the holiday season. You will also be also be less overwhelmed by external stimuli. Besides, when you begin to feel good about being alone, everyone will call and e-mail you to make demands on your time.
8. If you are worried about being lonely, call friends now to schedule. Plan to participate in rituals or spiritual/religious gatherings. Make a list of all the things you could do to pamper yourself and just haven’t had the time for.
9. Give yourself permission not to participate in holiday activities. Go away or get some good books to read. By not spending money on other people you’ll have more for yourself. The holiday season comes every year. It’s fine to miss this year.
10. Think about the things that made you happy last year and plan on continuing them next year. Think about the people and activities that created stress and unhappiness and plan to eliminate them this year. If those people create stress all year eliminate them from your life if you can.
You can’t control everybody and everything in your life. Learn to let go of other people’s judgements as to how you spend your holidays. They do not pay your bills, or live in your body.
The holidays this year are particularly stressful for many people. Take some time to think about the people you love and care about. Give them the gift of a phone call or note just to let them know how important they are to you.