Don't Let Stress Dilute or Derail Your Holidays
“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” – Frederick Keonig
Society sells the “holiday season” as one filled with never-ending family, food and fun. But for most of us, the “holiday season” is synonymous with stress. We are assaulted with messages that we must buy the perfect gift or hold the perfect party or cook the perfect dinner. And this bombardment seems to come earlier every year.
No WONDER we feel overwhelmed. Before you can finish saying “Happy Labor Day,” fall descends with a thud – with Halloween and Thanksgiving basically bypassed to make way for the Christmas/Hanukkah/Holiday season.
It’s the perfect storm of stress. Expectations are high that we should have a HAPPY Hanukkah or a MERRY Christmas, and thus we start adding projects and responsibilities such as baking cookies, decorating the house/office, shopping for gifts (and maybe going into debt), sending holiday cards or planning parties to an already busy work/home life. No wonder it feels like our head is about to explode.
And the price we pay for this stress is the risk of diluting the joy that comes from celebrating the true meaning of the season, and derailing our happiness and contentment because our expectations are too high. The commercialism that accompanies this time of year threatens to suck us into an emotional black hole – where no amount of Black Friday “sales” or store “specials” can save us.
The stress of the season is literally robbing us of the joy that it promises to bring. The solution? Instead of letting the stress control our lives for the next six weeks, we need to control the stress. And here are five helpful tips:
1. Get organized – Holiday responsibilities (decorating, cooking, gift giving) are an ADDITION to the responsibilities in our lives, not a replacement. We must work our jobs and raise our families while preparing for the season. So get organized. Sit down this week and create a calendar where you set aside time to get everything done – from gift-buying to card addressing to cooking to wrapping to decorating. Put it ALL down on a calendar.
2. Don’t put too much on your plate – Be realistic about how much you want to accomplish and don’t try to do too much. You won’t be any fun or any help to anyone if you are too tired and even sick to enjoy the season.
3. Let go of the guilt – If you can’t make a homemade pie, or don’t have the money to buy everyone gifts, or run out of time to send holiday cards – DON’T FEEL GUILTY. The goal here is to enjoy the season, not run some kind of race. If you buy a store-made pie, or send out an email greeting this year, it certainly isn’t the end of the world.
4. Continue your healthy habits – Don’t let the stress of the season interfere with your exercise routine or seduce you into eating or drinking more than you really need. Take care of YOURSELF this holiday season.
5. Be present in the moment – Above all, remember what the season is all about – peace on earth, goodwill to men (and women) and miracles. This is the time to make memories with the people we love, to bask in the knowledge that we are alive, to be grateful for everything we have, to acknowledge and reach out to those who are less fortunate, and to remember the “reason for the season.”
And to CELEBRATE that we made it through another year.
Don’t let stress dilute your joy or derail your peace.
Dr. Lori Baker-Schena is the founder and chief executive officer of Baker Schena Communications, a firm dedicated to “Unleashing Your Potential Through the Power of Words.” We offer motivational speaking, leadership consulting and medical writing services. Find us at www.loribakerschena.com