Leaves are falling, and so is rain, making a sodden mess in my yard. I am caught, as all are, between two seasons, trying to retire the objects associated with the last one – bicycles, hoses, bathing suits, dead leaves and plants – and bring out the requirements for the next one – warm jackets, skates, and shovels, among other things.
I love all the seasons, but the transitions are always a little hectic, made more hectic by our imagination of tasks to come.
The most stressful transition is probably that to the winter holiday season, with all its weather and lifestyle changes, as well as added demands to “be jolly.”
Transitions are a great time to remember to pause, breathe, choose, and remember who we really are, and what will really bring us joy.
This year, my Holiday Stressbuster Program will include this fascinating topic and ways to avoid it, as well as strategies for handling the difficult people who seem to crop up more often at holiday times, tactics for blending people who have very different ideas of how holidays should be celebrated, ways to avoid over-eating and over-spending, and more.For a “taste” of the Holiday Stressbuster program, sign up for my complimentary session on Wednesday, October 19, 7:30 Central Time. It will be chock-full of good information that will help you turn your holiday nightmares into a holiday dream!
What’s in your Holiday Bucket?
Icons of black cats with arched backs are appearing everywhere, to be followed soon by turkeys in all stages, from on-the-hoof to lying down, legs in air wearing a golden brown crust. Can wreaths, holly and jolly fat men in red suits surrounded by elves be far behind?
Your memory bucket is filled with all kinds of associations with these icons, and every year you try to revive the pleasant ones – all of them. Not just for yourself, but for your loved ones, too. And your to-do list is overflowing.
Does this sound like you? Already fatigued, maybe even exhausted, as you contemplate the (anticipated) demands on you?
The hardest thing to do when faced with too much to do is this: pause, breathe, choose. Take the time to contemplate who you really are right now, and what would most bring you joy. Then do those things and throw the others out of your holiday bucket. Horrified at not fulfilling every “tradition” you have set up over the years? Here are some suggestions for, well, coming to your senses.
Enlist the aid of family members to select their favorite memories from the Holiday Bucket, and implement them as best they can. Why is it your job?
Oppressed by the thought of selecting (and paying for) too many gifts? Anyone you know well enough to exchange gifts with is someone you know well enough to hold a frank conversation with – about finances, time, health and waste. (If you buy somebody a gift because it’s expected, will it really be used, or just add to the enormous pile of waste we seem to generate every year in the U.S.?) How about a
pleasant shared experience instead, such as going to hear a concert or see a show?
Do you think you must send out Christmas cards? Send New Year’s cards instead, connecting warmly with old friends and wishing them an inspired year. Your card (and wishes) won’t be lost in the stack on someone else’s mantel or desk. It may cheer someone up in the dark, cold days that typically follow Christmas.
Determined to decorate your home just like the magazines? But wait, first you have to clean it. Don’t you? Elaborate decorations may delight the eye, but you can use the power of other senses to evoke warm and wonderful memories. A few candles contribute a warm, soft glow. A pan of mulling spices on the stove, pine-scented candles or spray evoke powerful memories. These tasks don’t take much effort, and in dim light, the house doesn’t have to be perfectly clean. No one will notice dust bunnies under furniture when they are soaking up the nostalgic atmosphere.
When you’re handling too many tasks, you may be feeling more and more irritable – hardly something your loved ones want to experience. Too, you’re setting yourself up for illness, either spoiling your holidays or leaving you with a crushing post-holiday let-down.
Christine Carter, Ph.D., with the Center for Greater Good, was given an assignment by a mentor – imagine you had been told you were going to die. What’s on your bucket list? She found to her surprise, that she gave up ambitious but unrealized projects to opt for the simplest of pleasures.
Read her article (at http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/raising_happiness/post/Living_life_fully/, and consider what you could give up and/or emphasize to make the coming season more memorable.
My new program, “7 Steps to Holiday Serenity,” is designed to help you take that pause and re-design a holiday that really is a holiday – for you. Simple ways to find time to relax that you never knew you had, ways to stay on track with your wellness plans even when bombarded with “goodies,” skills for handling difficult situations and difficult people…and more.
Come to my complimentary, introductory, content-filled teleclass, “Holiday Stressbuster,” on Wednesday, October 19, 7:30 p.m. Central Time. I designed it to give you stress-management tools in advance of those Big Days – skills that will last you into the New Year, too. To sign up, just click here.