Are you ready to go from stressed out to blissed out this holiday season? The holidays, for many, include anxiety and stress. Let’s make stress unwelcome this season.
I used to get sick to my stomach every Christmas. I would over extend myself and go to every single event, but never really get quality time in because I was dashing from house to house. I would over spend on gifts that never got used, only to feel stressed when I saw my January Visa bill. I would lose my patience going from store to store that were filled with so many (too many) people doing last minute shopping. And then the special day would come and I would be hit with either a cold or the flu. Of course! My nervous system had just been on high alert for an entire month, lowering my immune system.
Today is a completely different story. I made the decision many years ago that this would be a season of feeling blissed out, not stressed out. And now this is my absolute most favourite time of year.
Let’s get you into the holiday spirit and ensure that your stress levels don’t go through the roof.
With the holidays fast approaching, you might be finding yourself under stress and feeling a touch of the overwhelms. 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.
First of all, I want you to truly take what I’m about to say to heart…you can’t see, do and be everyone and everything.
Here are some things you don’t have to do, but do them if you want to and it brings you JOY and SATISFACTION.
You don’t need to buy thousands of dollars worth of “perfect” gifts. The best gifts are those that come from the heart. Do you think your loved ones want you to go into debt to buy them a gift? That’s a big no.
You don’t have to visit every family member, friend, co-worker, dog, cat, and acquaintance – spending more time in your car than truly connecting and bonding with your loved ones. One year, my husband and I put 1500 KM on our rental car in 4 days trying to visit everyone! We were exhausted and didn’t get any quality time in. 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 2-4 days. Guess what? Your stressed out, overwhelmed, grouchy self is not who they want to see anyway. They would much rather see you when you can spend real quality time with them. I have friends booked into January and February already and they are so appreciative of that because they are busy too.
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, or door you walk through. 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 (most that you don’t have), and energy, on things you don’t want to do. If you have this superhuman, I have to do it all, and I’m the only one who can do it all complex, the best way to overcome this is to question your beliefs. 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?
The next stressed out to blissed out 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.
The plan might include:
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, or bring you satisfaction to do it? ASK FOR HELP! If no one wants to help, maybe it is time they don’t get your delicious turkey meal with all the trimmings. Do that once and everyone will be in your kitchen to help.
If a negative event occurs every year, like a drunk relative, how can you prepare yourself for it instead of letting them ruin your day?
If you 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. I have everything, and more, that I need.
And lastly, remember that the holidays are about LOVE. Period!
Laurie-ann Sheldrick, The Contagiously Positive Girl