The purpose of the holidays is to celebrate with the people who matter most to you, not to stress out. But for many people, this season is the most stressful time of year. Here are five tips you can use to experience more joy and less stress in the days ahead.
1. Ask yourself what would make the holiday less stressful and more joyful for you.
It can be so daunting to fit “what we have to do” for the holidays into an already busy schedule that we forget why we’re doing it in the first place. If you can find 5-15 minutes today, take some time to remind yourself what the holidays mean to you and how you want to honor that. Once you have that clarity, keep in mind that everything else is secondary.
2. Don’t make assumptions about the expectations of others.
In conversations this time of year, I hear a lot of clients and friends talking about how they feel obliged to go places or do things because others in the extended family expect it and will be disappointed if they don’t participate. It turns out that in most cases there was never a clear conversation about what is expected – it’s all assumed. Asking your relatives questions like “what matters most to you for this get together?” or “what would make this time less stressful and more joyful for you?” may yield some surprising answers. Ask, don’t assume, and use the answers to create a better experience for everyone.
3. Contain stressful get-togethers
Despite your attempts to get clarity on what you and others really want for the holidays, it’s inevitable that some get-togethers will be stressful because of decade-long personality and style differences. One way to lower your stress is to chunk the time you spend with those who get under your skin into pieces that you can easily handle. Keep in mind that all emotion is contagious – so if you are feeling drained, anxious, or resentful, others will pick up on that emotion and get triggered themselves. It’s better to infect people with authentic appreciation, gratitude, and acceptance. If you can be emotionally present and positively engaged for only an hour or two, it’s better to do that than stay longer and drain everyone else with your simmering frustration.
4. Reduce, reuse, recycle….
Materialism is becoming less appealing to an environmentally conscious society, and more people are thinking about de-cluttering and minimalism than ever before. With that in mind, consider modifying any part of your gift-giving tradition to make it more cost-effective and less stressful for all. White elephant gift-exchanges (where everyone wraps up something from their home that they no longer use, and then play a game to see who takes home what) are becoming more popular and can be really fun and low pressure for everyone.
5. Personal and meaningful usually trumps extravagance
Everyone loves getting a bonus or going to a nice holiday lunch with the team. But if you manage a team and you really want to do something special, you might be surprised at how meaningful a personal letter can be. If you write something specific, sharing your observations of how someone has grown and how proud you are to have them on your team, they are likely to treasure it forever. This tends to work in all important relationships. If you take the time to create a memorable experience, it lasts, and it doesn’t have to be expensive if you are short on funds. A hike with a picnic, a marathon game night, or a project the two of you can work on together can be just as special as a weekend getaway.
If you’re interested in learning more about stress reducing techniques or other coaching and mentoring programs, please reach out and schedule a free consultation with us. We’d love to hear from you!