Holidays are like a Dickens novel; they can be the best of times and the worst of times. They bring people together to share time, emotions and each other. They also come with expectations to receive and deliver that are rarely met. Up and down. Love and hate. Excited and depressed – all in the same moment.
So, how will you commit to making this year different?
Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Approaching the holidays the way you did last year without a clear intention or focus leaves you at the mercy of noisy and pushy marketing, unreasonable family expectations and a general sense of stress.
Imagine just for a moment that your holiday – whatever you celebrate – is loving, relaxing and memorable. Don’t roll your eyes and say, “that’s impossible.” Visualize you really enjoying the holiday. Sit with this for a minute because you will need to know what this looks like for you to decide how you and your family could work together to achieve it. If you can’t imagine it, you will not be able to create it.
So, first define it. To help with this, answer the following questions:
- How do I/we want to celebrate?
- Who do I/we want to celebrate with?
- How can I/we redirect the holiday away from spending and buying? (When did we decide that to show someone you care you have to spend money on them? What could you do instead?)
- What must be included in the holiday celebration that will make it special for me/us, my/our family, friends and colleagues?
- What is something I/we could do instead of giving gifts to show those in my/our life/lives are important to me?
I’m not unrealistic. It is entirely possible that a holiday event may not ever be able to achieve the coveted status of not stressful. But I think holidays are only doomed to be stressful because we create expectations that are frequently unreasonable.
So, to reduce stress and make holiday celebrations more reasonable, consider adding this on to the end of each of the questions above, “and make it fun and relaxing?” For example, “How do I/we want to celebrate and make it fun and relaxing? Or, “How can I/we redirect the holiday away from spending and buying to make it fun and relaxing? The constant is that the holiday has to be fun and relaxing for everyone. This may show up in doing more than buying, spending time instead of spending money, connecting personally instead of hiding behind technology.
Imagine what a great holiday for you. Ask others. Assemble all of the responses. Work together to ensure that everyone has something they want for the holidays, but that it cannot stress others out. A stressless holiday is one that everyone can enjoy.
Anytime you change the norm, you will get pushback. But if the change helps you create new traditions that make the holiday happy and less stressful, then the holiday becomes a great time instead of a time of worry, frustration and aggravation.
By Jay Forte
Consider reading What Does a Good Holiday Look Like for You?