With the holidays fast approaching, you might be finding yourself under stress and overwhelmed. This should be the most magical time of year, but we pile on the stress until we make ourselves sick and unhappy – preventing us from enjoying the holiday for what it should be about, which is being with your loved ones. It isn’t about the perfect gift, spending thousands of dollars, or making the perfect meal. It is suppose to make you believe in love and magic and family. It should bring people together, not tear them apart. It should be the time of year where you can just enjoy yourself, not feel stressed and overwhelmed.
What You Can Do
First of all, I want you to truly take what I’m about to say to heart…you can’t see, do and be everything.
You don’t need to buy thousands of dollars worth of “perfect” gifts. The best gifts are those that come from the heart.
You don’t have to visit every family member, friend, coworker and acquaintance – spending more time in your car than truly connecting and bonding with your loved ones. Make a list of who you want to see and be unapologetic about not being able to visit absolutely everyone. Make a plan to see those other people throughout the year. You don’t have to jam pack everyone into 2 days. Guess what? Your stressed out, overwhelmed, grouchy self is not who they want to see anyone. They would much rather see you when you can spend real quality time with them.
You don’t have to bake 10 pies, meatballs for 50, two traditional turkey dinners and provide wine and booze for every person who walks through your door. Unless those things bring you joy, decide what things you enjoy doing and be unapologetic about not spending thousands of dollars, plus all your precious time on things you don’t want to do.
The best way to overcome this Superwoman complex is to question your thoughts. For example:
Is this true? Do I really need to be the one who does it all?
Can I do it all? Do I even have the time, resources or desire to do it?
Would I expect someone else to do it all?
Next stress management tool is to question your thoughts. If the holidays make you feel sad, stressed or unhappy, what thoughts have led up to those emotions? We have these expectations about what we think Christmas should be, how we think people should act and we often do that by bringing past holidays into those expectations. The past is gone and you have no control over the future. The good news is that you can control your thoughts. If external events are making you question the joy that this time of year should be, don’t let your thoughts become beliefs. Understand that you can make a change in this moment – the present. Stress comes from the stories we tell ourselves. “That happens every year.” “I’m always the one who has to do everything.” “I always overeat, overthink and get sick during the holidays.” “My family always makes me feel overwhelmed and guilty.” Those are not truths, but stories we tell ourselves based on past events. Prepare for the stress by making a plan to reset your mind this year and make it more positive – even if last year, or last night wasn’t great.
If a negative event occurs every year, like a drunk uncle, how can you prepare yourself for it instead of letting him ruin your day?
If you feel like you always have to do everything, who can you ask to help you, or what do you need to let go of because it is no longer serving you?
If get stressed about overeating, think of eating those treats in moderation and pushing the reset button after the holidays are done. You didn’t commit diet homicide, you enjoyed the treats and now you are going to get back on track.
If your family makes you feel guilty, what can you do to prepare yourself for their guilt trips? They can’t make you feel anything unless you give them the power to do so.
The way I often prevent holiday stress, along with everything above, is to constantly tell myself how grateful I am. I’m grateful that I have a roof over my head. I’m grateful that I have food to eat. I’m grateful to be with people I love and who love me. So many people don’t have that and when I catch myself complaining or the stress starts to build up, I bring myself back to that reality.
Sending you oodles of positivity, happiness and joy,
Laurie-ann Sheldrick, The Contagiously Positive Girl