Trade Stressful for Joyful This Holiday Season
By Sonya L. Merritt
Celebrations. Expectations. Presents. Food. Family. Friends. Stress. We cram so much into this time of year we miss our chance to experience the real magic of the season.
Make this year different. Start by shedding your expectations that your worth and relative success as a spouse, parent, friend, etc. is evidenced by your degree of merriment making. You are no more or no less a person if you don’t go to that holiday party at your neighbors or if you don’t make seven different varieties of cookies or pose for the quintessential family photo complete with smiling faces all (even Fido).
Trade in your view of a seemingly endless task-list for a view of resplendent joy. There is much joy and good cheer to be found. Make this the best year ever. Here’s how:
1. Audition Your Traditions.
Break at least one long-standing tradition that you do every year. Something you do not because you like it but because you always do it. For example, could this be the year that you don’t send holiday cards or produce the family newsletter? Most of us do it because it’s tradition. Well, pull the plug. You make the call.
What do you want to fill your holiday with, blind obedience or engaging bliss? The road to bliss starts with making a conscious choice about where you place your precious time and energy. And if you feel you can’t be so self-indulgent as to not send cards consider only sending cards to those who send them to you first.
Renegotiate your traditions. Those who pay you back for your time and efforts with good times and warm memories are worthy investments. The others should be cut. If decorating the house isn’t worth the effort then stop. Take the ought-to out of the equation – replace them with want-to. Take your holiday back!
2. Make a Wish
Now that you’re committed to only including traditions that fuel your joy mission. Ask yourself, what is missing? Think of your favorite holidays of years gone by – what made them so special? How can you add those elements into your celebration? Now, decide if this is the year to do it. It’s that easy.
3. Make The Time
There’s always enough time to do what you want to. Give yourself the time you need to make the most of the holiday. Set a realistic plan for the tasks involved. You know how much time you need to shop, for example. Plan for it. Don’t let the things you don’t enjoy rob you of the time you need for the things you do. Be realistic. Have a back up plan if life happens and your vision isn’t coming true. This can run the gamut from enjoying a catered meal instead of a home-cooked one (no pots and pans!) or opting to give loved ones with gift certificates.
Remember, gifts are not physical representations of how much someone means to you. They are tokens of joy to share the spirit of the season. Gift certificates can be amongst the most thoughtful gifts your loved ones receive when you consider their interests and passions as you make the selection. If you yearn for simplicity this season, make an agreement with your friends or family to forgo gifts in lieu of a charitable donation or a meal together or even both! If your dream is a full-out traditional celebration then don’t try to do it alone. Ask for help. The joy is the doing not in the getting it over with. Share the joy.
4. Stay With Joy.
At least once a season you find yourself party hopping. And inevitably you are forced to leave one party so that you can meet your obligation to attend the next. This time don’t leave. There’s no guarantee that the fun you are getting ready to leave will be waiting for you as you arrive at your next stop on the party tour. Seize the moment and be where you are. That goes for when you are doing anything. It is impossible to experience joy if you are perpetually planning, multitasking, or always on the move. Joy can only be experienced in the present moment. So stop moving, be where you are, and let joy in. Cheers!
5. Have Dessert For Breakfast.
Be selfish. The season is short – play hard. Practice spoiling yourself. You deserve it. Most of the time, okay really the other eleven months of the year, we feel we can’t. So take this short time where it’s okay to be excessive and be really over the top with what you enjoy. Personally, I love warm apple pie in the morning. It feels so decadent whenever I do it. Revel in a guilty pleasure. Enjoy!
6. Laugh Out Loud. Laugh Alone. Just Laugh.
You feel yourself tensing up. You realize that you’re holding your breath, biting your tongue, or there’s smoke coming out of your ears as you stand in line at the mall. In these situations think about what your favorite comedian might say. What would Jon Stewart’s take on it be? Think about how Garfield, Zippy or Dilbert would handle the situation. Or start talking like an elf in a high-pitched squeal. You know, the one you’ve heard kids do. The one that’s hard to listen to but really fun make!
Look for opportunities to wear nonsensical things, reindeer noses, and elf hats, candy stripped socks, neckties or scarves that ring out tinny renditions of our seasonal classics. Take a page from Clark Griswold’s book, of National Lampoon’s A Christmas Vacation, and drink your eggnog from a moose cup. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Look for ways to lighten up. Strive to be just full-out silly! It’s impossible to be stressed and or angry while your laughing.
I double-dog-dare you. Try it you’ll see. Bring more laughter to your day and you’ll enjoy the holidays more.
Sonya is a native of the NH Seacoast and she owns the Healing Garden Wellness Center in Durham where the cultivation of a mind/body connection, to spur personal growth and bring joy into daily life, is the focus. They offer integrated holistic and complementary services including life coaching, reiki, mind/body connectivity, meditation and nutritional counseling.
This article was posted by Sonya Merritt