Instead of dreading or wishing away the holidays, do some preparation besides preparing the meal or buying a bottle of wine. Start a new tradition and try these eleven tips to help you enjoy the present and embrace the true meaning of the season.
1. Shiver away the fear if you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious. Say that this is the first year you, the younger generation, are hosting the family dinner. Move the emotional energy out of your body and ham it up. With the agitation removed, you can feel more peace, present, and joyful, and enjoy being the first to step out into this new frontier.
2. Identify and contradict your stressful thoughts. Instead of worrying and loosing sleep, repeat frequently, “It’s okay.” “Everything will be all right.” “Let go and relax.” Then you can make writing your holiday cards as an opportunity to connect with loved ones rather than a taunting task.
3. Remind yourself that the goal is to feel more joy. Choose to enjoy whatever task you are doing, and keep remembering the goal. “This holiday is about feeling joy.”
4. Don’t “pile up” your worries, stay specific. One of the ways we get overwhelmed is to entertain thoughts about everything at once and how much there is to do. Reel your thoughts in and remind yourself, “Stay specific.” and “Be in the present.”
5. Make a detailed task list. From a quiet place, write a list of to-dos and break overwhelming tasks into smaller units that you can easily accomplish. Prioritize and just attend to what’s next. In terms of shopping for gifts by seeing what strikes you, plan before you shop. Think of each person and give yourself some ideas before you go to the mall.
6. Don’t go it alone. Any overwhelming situation becomes less so when one asks for help. Figure out what you can delegate and ask friends or relatives to lend a hand. It’s not your job to do it all. Ask others to do some of the gift buying.
7. Accept what is. Negativity and anger arise when you aren’t accepting what is. Give up the idea that people and things should be different than they are. Practice repeating: “People and things are the way they are, not the way I want them to be.” From a more accepting stance, it’s much easier to be constructive and figure out exactly what you need to say and do. Accept that you’ll meet resistance from your teenage son when you want to take a family photo and then speak up about how important it is for you.
8. Appreciate others and lend a hand. Keep your eye open for good work, smart ideas, a helping hand, or a good attitude. Be sure to praise others when they contribute or are thoughtful. Look for the good in those difficult co-workers and voice what you’re grateful for their part in making the office run well. Volunteer to lend a hand and serve at the homeless shelter. It’s heartwarming to give.
9. Give yourself a break. When you feel stressed, do something that brings you into the now. Close your eyes and focus on taking some deep breaths. Grab a few minutes to step back from the overwhelming task at hand and do something to refresh yourself. Shiver out the agitation. Throw water on your face. Walk around the block. Take a 15-minute nap.
10. Focus on keeping the present joyful. Keep bringing the focus back to the present when others attempt to divert attention to negative things and old unfinished business. Make a comment about how good the food is, the football game is, or how beautiful the house looks. Make a genuine comment about the true meaning of the holiday and how grateful you feel. “Isn’t it great to be here all together. I feel so fortunate. Isn’t the turkey delicious.”
11. Get out those pent-up emotions. Rather than getting sucked into your old behavior patterns and family dynamics, get all that emotional energy out of your body when you get out of balance. There could be anger, sadness, or fear. Find a private place to pound your fists, stomp your feet, growl, cry, and shiver and shake. If you feel resentful that you have to go to a party, deal with your anger constructively and physically before you leave the house by pounding a pillow so you can feel more loving. If it’s the first holiday without your grandmother, allow yourself a big cry before the family arrives so you can be grateful for what you have. If you’re nervous about meeting your beau’s family, shiver and shake for a minute before getting out of the car.
You’ll feel better instantly, and ready to face tomorrow and the next event.
You’ll feel less sadness, anger, and fear, and more joy, love, and peace.