Ah, cure the holidays. The season of celebrations can also bring added stress. Parties, people, and pressure can detract from the meaning of this special time. Worshippers from all religions celebrate holidays in early winter. In fact, the Interfaith Calendar organizationlists 14 religious holidays in the month of December. Whether you participate in Christmas, Hanukkah, or Winter Solstice observations, here are some ways to reduce holiday stress this season:
1/ Keep it Simple. It’s easy to place unrealistic expectations on ourselves to find the perfect gift, host the most extravagant dinner, or plan the most outrageous event. Social media has added to our misperception that everyone else is out-doing us on the holiday activity measuring stick. Remember, comparison is the thief of joy. Keep the go-go-go to a minimum and focus on quality time with your loved ones. Do a puzzle. Read together by the fire. Share a cup of hot cocoa. Those are the moments your friends and family will remember.
2/ Express Gratitude. Tim Robbins once said, “Trade your expectations for appreciation and your world will change in an instant.” Simply put, when we focus on what we expect from situations or other people we almost always feel disappointed, frustrated, and stressed. Expressing gratitude has a positive impact on our performance and lives, both at home and work. A study by The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania showed the significant impact managers can have through the expression of appreciation. While executing an annual fundraiser, management split their team into two groups. The first group called alumni and solicited donations the way they always had. The second group met daily with the head of the department who repeatedly thanked them for their tireless efforts. Can you guess the outcome? The group on the receiving end of gratitude raised 50% more in donations than the other group!
3/ Practice Mindfulness. The holidays can bring about added anxiety due to regret about the past and worry about the future. Mindfulness is the process of bringing your full attention to what’s occurring in the present moment. The term “mindfulness” is a translation of the Pali term sati, an element of Buddhist tradition. Rather than letting concern about what inappropriate things Uncle Fred might say at dinner consume your thoughts, try being fully present in the current moment. Staying grounded in the present helps us get that extra task done, enjoy the company of loved ones, and leads to greater well-being and health.
4/ Do a Daily Sensory Detox. Ding dong, clink, zoom, jingle jingle, zippp, cha-ching…oh the joyful sound! With the hustle-bustle of the holidays comes sensory overload. From crowded shopping malls to loud gatherings to children screeching with delight, it’s easy for your senses to be taxed. Find 15 minutes each day to do something alone in a peaceful, quiet place. Go on a nature walk, or set your alarm to get up earlier than everyone else and enjoy a few serene moments to yourself.
5/ Savor the Significance. If you feel yourself getting your tinsel in a tangle, remember the lesson by Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch. “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” As you celebrate 8 crazy nights or the rebirth of the sun, take the time to reflect on the reason for your season.
Wishing you a very Happy Holidays and an impactful New Year!