The holidays are fast approaching. Are you feeling stress and overwhelm, instead of joyful anticipation? With so many competing obligations and needs in our modern life, preparing for the holidays might feel like yet another daunting chore. I’ll share 5 key strategies to help you pressure-proof your holidays, so you can enjoy instead of “endure” your holidays.1. Focus on what’s importantWhat does the holidays mean to you? Is it the special time with loved ones, gratitude, renewal, hope, cultural or family traditions, reconnecting with old friends, serving the community, religious meaning, etc.? Find out what’s important to you, and set a clear intention to focus only on those things.2. Practice the 3-D RuleOnce you’ve decided what’s important to you, you can then make a to-do list, and use the 3-D Rule to decide whether you will do it yourself, delegate to someone else, or dump it altogether from your to-do list. Ask yourself: What am I trying to accomplish? How important is it to do this task/activity? Is it really necessary to do this task/activity, or go to this function? (if not, delete it from your to-do list) Am I doing it because I want to, or because I feel obligated to do it?Stop “shoulding” all over yourself. Consciously choose which activities and tasks you take on. Ask yourself: Is this activity (cooking, cleaning, baking, shopping, hosting a family reunion, seeing your in-laws, etc) giving me joy or stress? Can someone else do it for me? Reach out to your family, friends and people in your community. It’s a great time to reach out to your support network, and/or be a part of someone’s support network. Can you help lessen the burden of someone else and help them celebrate the holidays with more ease?
3. Simplify your holiday traditionsForget about being perfect. Focus on what’s important and the meaning of each tradition, but be flexible about how it’s done. Stick with a few holiday traditions that you truly enjoy and try to simplify the rest.Always ask yourself: “Are there other (easier) ways to do it that will serve the same purpose?” For example, do you really have to bring out every single holiday decoration you own?If the purpose of sending out holiday cards is to reconnect with your family and friends, is it really necessary to send hand-written or even hand-made cards? Must yousend out all of your cards before Christmas? My graduate school professor has been sending me his “holiday greetings” in March, for the past few years. I’m just as thrilled to receive his cards, letters or pictures. Actually, it seems more special when it arrives on a non-holiday.If buying a gift for every family and extended family member is a daunting (not to mention expensive) task, why not play “Secret Santa” game this year so that each person only has to buy a gift for one person?If your goal is to enjoy quality time with your family relatives at the party, is it really necessary for you to cook up the entire feast all by yourself? I have a client who ended up cooking a huge Thanksgiving meal, because she couldn’t say NO and didn’t ask for help. If you enjoy cooking or baking, then by all means, show off your best dishes. But, if you feel overwhelmed by the thought of entertaining a full house with your home cooking, ask yourself: Can I ask some family members to bring some dishes? Or, like some of my friends did for this Thanksgiving, you can order the entire dinner from somewhere else and forget cooking altogether. Instead of spending hours laboring in the kitchen, you can actually sit back and relax, and have a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved ones.4. Take care of yourselfOne of your goals should be taking good care of yourself so you can enjoy the holidays too. Practicing Intensive Self-Care is extremely important, especially when you are under pressure.”Many people try to do too much, try to please too many people”, says Kenneth Goodrick, PhD, associate professor of family and community medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He is a psychotherapist and author of the book, Energy, Peace, Purpose. “Remember that happiness and fulfillment lie in the balance between self-care and caring for others,” he says. “Take care of yourself so you won’t burn out, so you will be of maximum help to others. That’s where you will get maximum fulfillment.”
I can’t agree more. Nobody benefits when you are stressed out and burned out during the holidays. So, make sure you plan enough breaks and fun activities for yourself throughout the holiday season. Choose healthy foods and try to get some exercise from holiday-related activities. Stick with your favorite self-care routines and spiritual practices (e.g. yoga, meditation, reading), so you will be nurtured and centered. Don’t forget to also reward yourself for a job well done!5. Enjoy the present momentHolidays are supposed to be joyful and fun! I often use “fun” as a criteria in choosing the activities/projects I pursue, because it’s one of my core values. Perhaps you do not think of fun as an important element for the holidays. Perhaps there are other meanings (religious or not) that are important to you. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is to be fully present in every activity you choose to do during the holidays, enjoy the present moment and enjoy each other. Don’t worry about what still needs to be done or what you didn’t do perfectly.Embrace the experience and meaning of every activity. You will have much richer experiences, more joy, and stress-less holidays.
© copyright 2006 Hueina Su
And now I would like to invite you to get your FREE Intensive Self-Care Kit ($97 value) when you visit web: RxForBalance .com You will receive the Intensive Self-Care Workbook, C.P.R. for Work Life Balance 60-min expert interview MP3, and a special report “Recharge with Mini Energy Breaks” with 68 ideas to reduce stress and keep you energized.From Hueina Su, The Nurturer’s Coach, Keynote Speaker, Author of “Intensive Care for the Nurturer’s Soul: 7 Keys to Nurture Yourself While Caring for Others”