The holidays can be an extra stressful time of year. The never ending demands of holiday parties, programs, shopping, and guests can leave you feeling frazzled and fatigued. Your visions of peace and joy may run out the door when irritability and overwhelm show up to spoil your holiday fun. Give the Grinch the boot with these 5 tips for a stress-free holiday and reclaim the joy of your holiday season.
1) Have a Clear Intention of What You Want For Your Holiday Season.
Have a clear intention of how you want to feel and what you want to experience during the holidays. Your clear intention for the holiday season will help you prioritize where you spend your time, money, and energy so that you are getting what you want out of the season, rather than spending your time, money, and energy fulfilling the whims and wishes of other people.
Start each day focusing on your intention. My intention for the holidays is to feel calm and peaceful. So each morning as I spend the two-minutes brushing my teeth, I focus on having a calm and peaceful holiday and what that means to me. Starting my day with a clear sense of what I want sets the tone for the rest of my day. Start you day with a clear intention and you’ll be surprised to see what a difference this simple act will create for your holiday season.
2) Just Say “No”.
It’s very easy to feel pressure and obligation to do everything asked of you, and to attend all events and parties you are invited to. While it’s wonderful to be so popular, it’s also exhausting! The truth is there is always someone else that can manage the obligation if you don’t do it, and if not, then it probably wasn’t that important in the first place.
Saying “no” is an important boundary that many women struggle with because they feel they should be able to do anything asked of them, and they should be all things to all people. They feel guilty or inadequate if they say “no”. But saying “no” and knowing your personal limits and priorities is actually a very powerful stance to take for both yourself and the receiver. Besides, a stressed out cranky “do it all” person is no fun to be around, especially during the holidays.
If you want to win a wonder woman award then go for it – do everything. But if you really want to enjoy your holiday, enjoy the events you attend, and enjoy the people you spend time with then say “yes” to the people and events that bring you joy, and “no” to everyone and everything else. The more you practice saying “no” the easier it will become and the happier you will feel.
3) Schedule in “Me Time”.
Every day give yourself some undivided time just for you. This is sacred rejuvenating time to fill your well and connect with your soul, so protect it like you would your children. Even something as simple as 5-minutes a day of “me time” will make a tremendous difference in reducing your stress and increasing your joy.
Your “me time” can be short and simple, such as taking a walk, painting your nails, reading a book, taking a bath, or just sitting in meditative silence for a few minutes. The important thing is to stop, pause, and fill your well before re-engaging in the rest of your day. You’ll quickly see an increase in peace and energy by adding rejuvenating “me time” into your schedule. This will be one of your greatest tools for creating a stress-free holiday.
4) Taste The Season.
Holidays are filled with scrumptious smells and treats that delight all of your senses. Unfortunately these sweet delights are also high in sugar and carbohydrates that explode like nuclear bombs on your hormones and neurotransmitters. Holiday treats can trigger epic emotional rollercoaster mood swings, weight gain, and energy drains.
The holidays can be additionally stressful if you’re trying to avoid or not eat these seasonal sweets. Denying yourself the pleasure of your favorite goodies may cause you to feel cranky and might even trigger a caloric binge.
Instead of indulging in or denying all of the goodies the season has to offer, choose to savor a “taste” of your favorite holiday treats. So choose carefully what gives you the most delight and then give yourself a bite, a sip, or a savory taste and smell. Then let the sweetness linger in your memory, not on your hips, as you create a sweet stress-free holiday.
5) Savor Each Moment.
The holidays are so busy it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle; the never-ending shopping lines, freezing cold weather, and obligations galore. The excess of it all can drive anyone crazy. So keep yourself calm by focusing on the moment. What peace, joy, or delight can you find in the now. As you stand in a long shopping line think about how happy the receiver will be when they get your gift. Notice the children laughing, playing, and singing Christmas songs. Feel your gratitude from family and friends that love you.
Peace and joy can be found anywhere. But sometimes it takes focusing your attention beyond the noise to find it.
You deserve a stress-free holiday. Get more tips for a stress-free holiday in my book “Holiday Peace and Joy: Your Guide For a Happy Holiday” available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and your favorite online bookstore.
Peace and Happy Holidays to You!
Carolyn Flynn, LPC holds a Master’s degree in Counseling with additional studies in Nutrition and Holistic Health. She provides a unique blend of mind-body solutions to create health, happiness, and loving relationships. She is a strategist, problem-solver, and intuitive guide. She believes every woman deserves to feel beautiful, serene, and happy. She is committed to helping women create lives they love. She is the author of SMART Talk, Heal Your Grief, and Holiday Peace and Joy.
Last month my husband and I started a new tradition. We decided to make every day a holiday.
This year we decided to have a Thanksgiving Month instead of a Thanksgiving Day. So throughout the month of November we enjoyed eggnog, pumpkin pie, and turkey feasts. We played Christmas music, watched movies, and played games. At each event we wished each other a “Happy Thanksgiving” and celebrated as though it was the actual holiday. We also had several creative days of making homemade decorations, decorating the house, baking, and sharing our goodies with friends and family.
We celebrated each day as if it was the actual holiday. We expressed our gratitude for each other and for the blessings in our life. By making every day a holiday, the month of November was full of peace and joy.
As life would have it, our original plans got thwarted and we were unable to visit my family for Thanksgiving. But because we were flexible and had celebrated throughout the month, our holiday wasn’t ruined when we were unable to attend the traditional Thanksgiving celebration. Even though our original plans had gotten changed at the last moment we didn’t feel like we were missing out because we had been enjoying the spirit of the holiday every day.
So on the official Thanksgiving Day we slept in, relaxed, and enjoyed a non-traditional Thanksgiving feast while enjoying each other’s company. We had already celebrated Thanksgiving many times over so we were already filled with peace, joy, and gratitude for each other and our bountiful blessings. We had just celebrated 28 days of thanksgiving and we both agreed this ended up being one of our favorite Thanksgiving holiday experiences.
Holidays often become stressful because all of our attention and expectations are placed on a single day. We focus all of our energy, dreams, creativity, effort, and expectations into making that one-day just perfect. In the process we burn ourselves out and drive ourselves to exhaustion. In the end we’re too tired to really enjoy all the work and effort we’ve put into it. We’re further disappointed and hurt when others don’t appreciate our hard work, and reality doesn’t even come close to looking like our imagined expectations.
Here are some tips I’ve learned to make the holidays peaceful, joyful, and full of positive memories.
- Focus on the spirit of the holiday. Having a clear intention of what you want to feel, do, and experience during the holiday season will help you to manifest the experience you desire. Staying focused on the spirit of the holiday will help you to create a holiday that is meaningful to you, without worrying about meeting commercial or cultural expectations of how the holiday should be experienced.
- Identify what the holiday means to you and keep that feeling in everything you do. For me the winter holidays mean joy, gratitude, and peace. Focusing on those feelings while I’m running errands and doing daily tasks keep the holiday spirit alive in my heart. Focusing on my desired feelings also helps prevent anxiety, frustration, and irritation at the increasing holiday crowds and traffic.
- Identify what is most important to you about the holiday and incorporate that in your daily activities and as often as you can. Some of my winter holiday favorites include Christmas music, playing games, eggnog, pumpkin pie, frosting cookies, and making decorations. Household tasks like doing the laundry and washing the dishes can become holiday activities when you’re singing Christmas songs and focusing on what you’re grateful for.
- Be flexible with your plans. The holidays can get filled with activities and commitments. Being flexible and flowing with the moment will help you to get the most out of your holiday. It will also keep you open to spontaneous joy and adventures you weren’t planning on. Being flexible will keep an element of surprise and magic in your holiday adventures and prevent the disappointment of rigid expectations.
- Celebrate the simple everyday moments. Feel grateful for a good night sleep. Celebrate the warm sunshine on your face. Enjoy the conversation of friends, family and people that you meet. The gifts of the season don’t just come in packages with bows, they’re everywhere if we just take the time to see them and enjoy them.
We’re going to continue our new tradition of making every day a holiday. Making each new day a cause for celebration creates adventures and magical moments we wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.
I can’t wait to see what December will bring!
By Carolyn Almendarez
Carolyn Flynn Almendarez holds a Master’s degree in Counseling with additional studies in Nutrition and Holistic Health. She provides a unique blend of mind-body solutions to create health, happiness, and loving relationships. She is a strategist, problem-solver, and intuitive guide. She believes every woman deserves to feel beautiful, serene, and happy. She is committed to helping women create lives they love. She is the author of SMART Talk, Heal Your Grief, and Holiday Peace and Joy.
How will you celebrate today? Share in the comments below how you will make your every day a holiday.