When I googled “Holiday Stress” this morning, I got 7 million, 500 thousand items. Top picks were articles and blogs attempting to help people manage their holiday stress. As an expert on dealing with tough stuff, I feel obliged to jump into the fray of suggestions for surviving and thriving this holiday season.
Let’s first look at the stress we create for ourselves.
- What about the big deal hassles over the proper way to wish a friend a happy winter holiday? In an effort to be inclusive of all citizens, the White House has sent Happy Holiday cards for the past 8 years. Some Christians take that as an insult, as a “war on Christmas.” Some Jewish people have their own issues on greetings at the holidays. Coming out of my health club yesterday I overheard a couple of Jewish women ridiculing a non-Jewish woman’s mispronunciation of Hanukkah, or Chanukan. (For those who don’t know, to pronounce either word correctly, a soft guttural clearing of the throat needs to precede the H or C.) And this matters why?
- How come we expect our holiday season to always and continuously, be happy? This unrealistic obligation pumps pressure into all our activities; In searching for just the right gifts, planning decorations and menu items we’ve seen in magazines, addressing holiday cards to business contacts that reflect our brands, and writing an annual letter to friends and family recounting all the happy successes of the past year.
Meanwhile in the real word – life continues as usual – people get sick, family members disagree, loved ones die, accidents happen, and bad weather delays travel plans. Instead of blaming ourselves, one another, or the gods, for this unexpected bad timing –
1) Lowering our expectations, it’s just a fleeting season of the year
2) Calling on helpers, both seen and unseen, while reaching out to help others
3) Saying yes to whatever cannot be avoided and asking ourselves “what good can come from this?
4) Continuing the radical self care practices that have kept us sane and healthy throughout the rest of the year
5) Honoring those no longer with us by sharing stories of when they were here, or giving a gift in their name to a charity or cause they believed in
6) Connecting with previous experiences of peace, joy and love and bringing them into the present moments of this particular holiday season.
Allow me to wish you a blessed holiday season and a peaceful, joy-filled New Year.