Holiday season, to a lot of people, is a stressful time. Family visiting, big meals to prepare, and credit cards filling up with gift purchases. I have been fortunate enough to be in the age bracket where I am young enough to have the majority of my recent Christmas memories as lazy around in a cozy house and eating good food. There were most definitely stresses like Christmas brunch and dinner where my more conservative relatives questioned my piercings, life, and tattoo choices and praised my brother for everything down to having a good sneeze.
“Wow John, that was the most amazing sneeze I have ever witnessed. You are such a good grandson. Carly, do you ever plan on sneezing like that or are you just going to sniffle?”
Okay, so that’s an extreme exaggeration but needless to say I always left that dinner table feeling full of food and stressed about my lot in life. I know my mom and dad stressed in their own way as well about getting everything together. Making sure they bought enough food, making sure everyone had presents, and a bed to sleep in. And as my grandmother ages I can see her getting more and more worked up over the holidays and every little thing that needs to happen for it to come together.
It has become quite clear with the way people talk its like everyone decides ahead of time to get stressed about the holidays. As I got older even I started to take on stresses … like it was an honor to wear my stresses to show to the world how adult I was.
After hearing countless people gearing themselves up for holiday stress and reading numerous articles on the subject I decided that I wasn’t going to put myself into traction over Christmas or anything else for that matter (As best as I could of course). I have made the conscious choice to not be stressed out about those types of situations that we have per-determined as “stressful”. A difficult situation at work, being late for an important appointment, someone being satisfied with the gift you got them.
But how do we transition from reacting to planning, how do we change a pattern that was learned, and how can we learn to let go of control and surrender to the rhythm of the universe?
I don’t know for sure but I know steps I can begin to take now that will take a positive effect.
1. Put a positive intention forward and get organized.
This holiday season sit down with a pen and paper and write out the things you would like to accomplish. Whether its a big dinner, getting everyone a good gift, getting along with your family, or all of the above. Make a list and begin to cultivate change. When I plan and put my true intentions forth I will achieve the desired goal without getting all worked up about everything.
2. Let go of the outcome.
This is most definitely an important factor in reducing any kind of stress. Lots of our chosen stress triggers are out of our control. In my own life, when I am able to let go of the responsibility of the outcome that is out of my control stress tends to melt away.
3. Slow Down.
In stress mode we tend to move at a faster pace. Sometimes even racing from one task to another. When possible, make the choice to move a little slower. Pay more attention to each movement and eliminate time from the equation. I used to be obsessed with time which induced a fair amount of stress in my life and especially during a season of events. I would constantly be looking at the time and rushing to get to my destination. Arriving in time but also in a ball of tension. When someone suggested that I look at the clock just once before leaving the house and then not again until I arrived at my destination that that might help. They were right. I still arrived on time but enjoyed the journey a lot more without the unnecessary distraction of the clock.
4. Give Gratitude
Christmas or any other holiday is not about the gifts received. Its about the gifts given. I truly believe each day that I am here is a gift and the more I give thanks and give to others, the more love and joy I receive.
This holiday season don’t get caught up in the old patterns of tension and stress, appreciate and enjoy the time spent with friends and family and thank your SELF for everything you do and others will give gratitude in return… even if its in a different way.
Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.
Norman Vincent Peale