The holiday season is here, and we are once again in the presents/food/celebration/party mode. It can feel overwhelming at times, so I have a quick exercise for you and some simple tips that are different than many of the standard ones we see.
If you are feeling the holiday crazies, try this simple exercise.
Pick a holiday event or tradition. Get quiet. Sit down, do three deep breaths in and out. Ask yourself if that tradition is shackles on or shackles off. We all know what the sensation of a mental shackle feels like. You’ll get the answer very quickly in your body.
Follow that trail. Do more of it if it’s shackles off. Don’t do it at all or do a lot less if it’s shackles on.
After you’ve done the exercise, check out which holiday traditions you cherish. Make a “to do” list and do more of those!
Like fruitcake? Eat it, make it and don’t let the fruitcake naysayers impact you one iota.
Like holiday movies? Watch ‘em! Do that again if it’s a favorite.
Get energy from being part of the hustle and bustle of shopping crowds? Go get those deals!
What holiday traditions do you just hate? Cut back on it, remove it, turn it off, and set the budget ahead of time. Yes, you can.
An overcrowded schedule? Selectively accept. Participate in what has meaning to you. “No” is a complete sentence.
Spending too much on gifts? No one wants to be looking at that credit card bill in January, and your loved ones certainly don’t want that for you.
Feeling obligated to do... fill in that blank? And then don’t. A kindly worded refusal is just fine.
Holiday Music? Much of it makes my teeth hurt, and I make sure my exposure is limited.
Here are a few tips:
1. Remind yourself what the holidays are all about, spending time with family and friends, helping the less fortunate, spreading good cheer, and worshiping according to your faith. Make it a sacred time with winter coming to get quiet and focus inward.
2. Don’t expect unrealistic outcomes like we see in 30-second television commercials. Try to relax and allow whatever unfolds to surprise you. You might find that what winds up happening is much better than anything you could ever imagine.
3. Change your expectations. Our expectations shape our outcome so how you expect your holiday to go will influence your experience of it. If you expect this time with your family to be filled with drama, then it’s more likely that will be the case. If you expect to get along with everyone and have an enjoyable time, then that outcome becomes more likely. Meet people where they are and realize we are all the same individuals during the holidays that we are the rest of the year.
4. Practice gratitude. One of my favorite Tony Robbins quotes is "Trade your expectations for appreciation and your whole world changes in an instant." Now, that’s a perfect holiday gift to give yourself!
5. Be present. When you’re at a party or family gathering, be there physically and mentally. You’ll have a lot more fun interacting with live people than if you hover over your phone texting or checking your email.
6. Give something back. This is my absolute favorite thing. Here are a few of my consistent places to support. Find and support yours.
Think of the elderly in need in your community and assist a local support group that helps them out.
Empty Stocking Fund
A local animal no-kill shelter. Check out Fur Kids in Atlanta.
The Humane Society of the United States
Feeding America. Let’s feed the hungry in our own country. This group does outstanding work.
7. Forgiveness. We can become even more acutely aware of ruptured or damaged relationships during the holidays. Our minds can give us all kinds of pain in response to that heightened awareness. Repair if you can or should.
8. Include a healthy amount of rest, downtime, and time for doing what you like. Make a list of those things and commit to honoring it.
Enjoy your holiday break and know that I treasure having each of you in my circle.