The holidays are an exciting time but can bring with them a flurry of emotions. If you want to go from overwhelmed to overjoyed this season, here are five tips and how-tos to help savor the season. After all, 'tis the season... to make it your very own.
Tip #1: Just Say NO!
Sure, there are lights to hang, parties to attend and gifts to purchase, and if you love doing these things, great! Do it all and enjoy yourself. But if you don't enjoy these things, you can just say no. You get to choose. The people around you want YOU. Your presence is the best gift you can give. If you say yes to things you think you should do but don't really want to do, you are going to be less connected to the people around you. Trust yourself and give yourself a break.
How-to: Stay true to yourself
1. Go for the feeling. How do you want to feel this holiday season? Connected? Peaceful? Joyful? Loving? Get intentional and create more of what you want.
2. Clarify a plan. Set aside time and energy and figure out what needs to happen. When are the parties? What gifts need to be purchased? What other obligations exist? Take the time to map out the have-tos so you know what's on the (possible) agenda.
3. Trim the fat. Allow yourself to say, "No, thank you." Figure out what you can graciously bow out of if it doesn't give you more of the feeling you want to have this season.
Tip #2: You First
The best gift is the ability to stay grounded. When you are grounded and present, you are much more connected to others, and this makes you more pleasant to be around. And when you are more enjoyable to be around, the people around you are magically more lovely to be around as well. It's amazing how it works!
How-to: Ground yourself simply
1. Take three to four nice, deep breaths. Just stop what you are doing and breathe in deeply, then breathe out. Ahhhh, so good.
2. Bounce and shake! Moving your body is an easy trick to reconnect with yourself. Wiggle your hips, jump up and down, wave your arms -- it's so simple and fun and shifts how you feel almost instantly.
3. Go outside. The act of breathing in fresh air can change how you feel in an instant. No matter what the weather, open the door and step outside. It brings you into the present moment.
Tip #3: Pre-mind the People Around You... Especially Your Little Ones
A pre-minder is a tool that lets the people around you know what's coming before any action is needed on their part. When you pre-mind the people around you of what's to come, you lessen your stress, communicate more clearly, and allow your loved ones to integrate the information.
How-to: Play with pre-minders
1. Think of an upcoming activity or event. "Hey love, we're going to Grandma's house tomorrow."
2. Determine who's going to be involved. "Our family is going and we'll also see Grandma and Grandpa and your cousins."
3. Give them a heads up of what will happen, what's expected of them and how things may unfold. "Remember, when we go to Grandma's we all sit at the table for a special meal. I know you are going to listen well and make great choices. I'm looking forward to having an easy and fun day with you and everyone else!"
Tip #4: Anticipate an Emotional Hangover
It's easy to overindulge during the holidays -- more sugar, a lot of socializing, big excitement, etc. While all of this can be wonderful, it can also leave both big and little people emotionally hungover. This may include a variety of behaviors: irritation, aggression, frustration, wanting of everything, hating of everything. Your challenge is to remember what's really going on -- the behavior is a by-product of being overdone.
How-to: Navigate the emotional hangovers
1. Identify potentially over-stimulating events. Be mindful that even super fun days can be a lot, especially for the children.
2. Create space around those times. Try not to stack too much back to back, and let things breathe. Remember, if a plan doesn't serve you, you can say no!
3. Hold a supportive environment for the emotions to flow. Remember, when people are overwhelmed and melting down, it's not personal. Try not to react to the big emotions. Be present. Don't fuel the fire with rationality. We all need compassion and space for the storms to blow through.
Tip #5: Stop Evaluating, Start Appreciating
After (or even before) an event, don't evaluate its successes or weaknesses. I've heard far too many people reflect on moments with, "Well, this could have been better if..." Stop! This thinking is toxic. Put on your appreciation glasses and ask yourself, "What am I thankful for? What's working? How am I totally rocking it?" Make it big or make it small, just make it a part of your every day. What you appreciate, appreciates.
How-to: Cultivate an attitude of gratitude
1. Be in the moment. Stop yourself from going into the past or future. Be here now and experience the here and now.
2. Focus on what's working. Look for goodness. Look for success. Even if it's small, put your attention on what's working.
3. Stop the negative thoughts. When a negative thought pops in, notice it and let it go. If you have to do something to shift it, count backwards from 20. Then name something you're grateful for and get back to feeling positive.
So there you have it. Five steps to bring more ease and joy into a holiday season that you get to create. Let me know which one resonates the most with you. Go ahead and leave a comment.
Follow Carrie Contey, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CarrieConteyPhD