Thanksgiving is behind us. For many people, this is now the time where everything gets busier even though this is supposed to be the quiet, reflective time of the year. Just yesterday I talked with a physician who has clear signs of burnout and mental exhaustion and she doesn't want anything more than work-life balance and a break from all the chaos and overwhelm. When I asked her when she is ready to make some healthy changes, she told me that she doesn’t have the time right now due to all the holiday obligations. She mentioned all the reasons and excuses why she had to chase her to-do list and push through the holidays. But after the holidays she will focus on herself. Really?
More and more people are stressing out over the holidays and its preparation rather than taking control of their choices and responding with ideas that bring them peace and happiness. Instead, they opt in for more burnout, frustration, and exhaustion, not only mental but also physical.
Here are 3 tips to make this your best holiday time and end 2015 with a bang.
1. Say “No” More Often
I am amazed about how many people make themselves slaves of holiday parties. They feel obliged to go to other people’s holiday parties and they also feel pressured to organize holiday parties in their own home. An internist client of mine just told me that she hosted holiday parties in the previous years and she felt miserable and so overwhelmed by its preparation. She told me, “Iris, the days of the parties I felt so exhausted, I cried in the mornings. I held it together during the events, but it wasn’t fun for me at all.”
If organizing a party is too much trouble and stress for you, stop doing it. You don’t owe anything to anybody else, you don’t even owe an explanation. Now sure, if you have fun organizing and hosting parties and it gives you energy, have at it. But if it feels more stressful and dreadful to you, why putting on the pressure. Many of your friends and family may be thankful that they don’t have another party to go to and that they can spend a relaxing evening in their own home. The same principle applies if you are invited. If it is more a dread than a pleasure to go to a party, kindly excuse yourself and enjoy a quiet and fun evening at home.
2. What makes the holidays meaningful to you and your family?
Too many people succumb to societal and cultural pressure when it comes to the holidays. They have to keep up with the neighbors; they have certain expectations on what the holidays have to look like. More people spend time on the “having” than the “being”. What do you want to experience this holiday season? Peace of mind? Relaxation? Fun family events? Meaningful conversations? When you know the answer to this question, you have a plan on what you want to say no to and what you want to say yes to. Too often people put so much pressure on themselves during the holiday season because they never have a conversation with their loved ones on what they want the season to look like and whether all these parties, gifts, decorations, and obligations are meaningful to them. After all, you can never make it right for everyone. But you can make it right for yourself and your closest family.
3. Reflect, complete, dream
Now that the days are shorter, the weather is colder and the house is cozy, this is a good time to reflect on the past year and dream about the upcoming. What were some highlights of 2015? Where did you shine? What “sucked” this year? What is an area where you feel incomplete and what can you do between now and December 31 to get complete?
What are your intentions and dreams for 2016? What do you want to experience next year? What plan or support can you put in place to make it happen? Make the time to reflect on these questions to learn from experiences and create a focus for the coming year.
If you want this holiday season to be the most peaceful and memorable one, don’t follow societal or traditional norms but follow your own heart’s desire. Open yourself up for joy, peace, and connection – this is what this time of year is all about.
Please share in the comments section what you are doing differently this year to make this a great season for you and your family.