I was getting ready to post my next blog on feedback, when I heard a theme emerging among my clients. It sounded like this:
And when I hear that many people saying the same thing, I figure maybe we should address it. So here you go. McLaren Coaching Holiday Strategies.
Strategy No. 1: Give yourself a break. Where does holiday stress come from? It comes from the same place regular stress comes from. Where is that? Having too much to do? Maybe. But perhaps it’s something a little more insidious. Perhaps it comes from expecting a lot of yourself, trying to achieve far more than is easily possible, being upset with yourself when the holiday experience is not “perfect.” In particular, those of us with children put a lot of pressure on ourselves. But the good news is this is internally created stress. So give yourself a break. Really. Today is December 23. Tomorrow is Christmas eve. Be okay with how much you have accomplished and just let go. You have done enough. And if you can’t let go today, let go tomorrow…or Christmas morning. Stop reaching for perfection and reach for something else that will bring you joy – connection, love, peace, whatever. And it’s not too late to relax for Chanukah and the New Year – the whole season of giving.
Strategy No. 2: Often during the actual holidays we are with a lot of people. Or what seems like a lot of people. Be willing to take a break. I used to look forward to being with my extended family so much that I didn’t think it was okay to be tired or need a break when the time actually came. If you have worked with me on time management, the concept here is similar. Taking breaks makes you a more grounded, centered person to be around. So go ahead – leave the festivities for five minutes. Go outside. Walk around. And if you are the main person in charge of everything and feel you can’t leave without people coming to find you, then tell them. “I just need to take a few minutes. I’ll be back in 5.” You may find a lot of other people needed breaks too.
Strategy No. 3: Meditate. Even if you’ve never done it before, taka a few minutes to focus on your breath. Physiologically, it will make you feel calmer.
Strategy No. 4: Mindfulness. Whenever you can think of it, stop and focus your attention on whatever is around you. Focus on your breathing or the way the lights look or the face of someone near you. The more you are mindful – present in the moment – the less you will feel stressed. Stress is rarely a reaction to the present moment. It is usually something that is happening in your head. If you stay in the moment, you stand a better chance of being calm and enjoying yourself.
Strategy No. 5: Don’t abandon all your habits. Many of us have developed habits of self-care – vitamins, plenty of water, rest, exercise, moderation in drinking. One thing that can contribute to stress is the “all or nothing” behavior of throwing all your supportive behaviors out the window in the name of “having a good time.” Check and see what you consciously want to let go of and what you want to continue to do. You may find exercising on celebration days makes you happier. Or that drinking in moderation is better than going all out. The key is – make conscious decisions.
Strategy No. 6: See strategy No. 1. I cannot overemphasize this. For the holidays give yourself this gift. You have done enough. Relax. Let go. Take a nap.
And my wish for you – be well, be happy, be at peace.