We often hear people say they are just trying to "survive" the holidays. Why has this become the case?! If the purpose of the holidays is to spend time with family and enjoy yourself, then why are so many people depressed, angry, and overwhelmed during this time? As a Life Coach in Virginia and DC, there is a reason I often am booked over the holidays. Nothing can elicit both feelings of love and frustration quite like our family. Whether every family member drives you a little crazy or you have that one that knows how to and loves to push your buttons. Here are some basic tips I often find myself sharing with my coaching clients, so they can not only survive, but actually ENJOY this holiday season.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Let’s just get this out of the way right now. Things will go wrong this year. I know it and you know it. Something always does. Something breaks, something spills, the pie falls apart, your brother doesn’t show, or your grandmother mentions for the 100th time that you’ve gained weight and that’s probably why you’re not married. When these things happen, I want you to ask yourself “Will this matter in a year or in three months?"
Sometimes the answer may be yes, but often times we know that this matters in the moment but will not matter next year at this time. If you know that this will not matter, choose to not stress. Choose to LET IT GO. That’s right, it’s a choice, that YOU have power over. Don’t ruminate, don’t compare, and don’t blow it out of proportion. Your key to enjoying the holidays is to not let the small things become your focus. Focus on what really matters here.
Focus on What Matters
Let's pretend that I am your life coach. I would like you to do something right now. Not tomorrow and not after the holiday has passed. Right now, before all the people have arrived, before you’re overwhelmed, before you start baking and shopping. I would like you to ask yourself, “Why am I doing all of this? Why am I shopping? Why am I baking? Why am I hosting? Why am I going to my family’s house? Why am I flying hundreds of miles?” I suspect that for most of us it’s to see, be with, and bless the ones we love. It’s to be home around the ones that we love and who hold our history.
This year, that is what I’d like you to hold on to. Hold on to your why and focus on what you really care about. If your goal is to share love than focus on giving and receiving that love. You know that your sister is late every year and is always going to be late. So, accept it, expect it, choose to not get angry, don’t put her in charge of the appetizer, and ENJOY her. If you choose to sit and fester in your anger you could miss the opportunity to create some really enjoyable moments.
Don’t Over Commit
Repeat after me “No. Thank you for asking but anything else I commit to at this point will take time away from my family.” It’s healthy to say no if we don't want to do something or if doing so, will add additional stress to our lives. Choose the activities you want to do or are willing to do and then say no to all others. Don’t allow yourself to be guilted or manipulated into saying yes. If baking triggers your stress, then buy one or all of the pies. Make things as simple and enjoyable as possible. This may sound like common sense but as a life coach I can't tell you how many sessions I have spent helping client's cut things out of their lives that bring them unnecessary stress. Part of the reason people hate or become stressed over the holidays, is because they overcommit themselves. You are so busy doing, that you're unable to be present, in the moment, and enjoy the very reason we celebrate the holidays.
I know we often hear people say this, but do we really know what it means and know how to practice it? As a life coach this is a skill, I often teach the clients I coach. Being present means being aware of and in-tune with what is going on right now in this moment. Let's try it now. In this moment what feelings are you experiencing? What's the temperature in the room? How is your body feeling? Any aches, stiffness, hunger, tension? What thought keeps distracting you?
That's pretty much it! It's about focusing on what is happening in this very moment and working to not let your mind wander. Now you can practice when you're with another person. When your niece, or brother comes in and sits next to you, look at them and focus on them. What are they wearing? How do they look? Ask them about them and really listen. If you catch your mind wondering to tasks to complete or conversations you had earlier, bring your mind back to the person. Be interested in them and in their life. Ask follow questions that might go a little deeper than usual. If you find that you are not interested in what they are discussing you can try to ask them about something you would be interested in, like a common interest or hobby. Whether you speak to them for 5 minutes or 20 minutes be present and interested. When you just go through the motions and they feel it.
So often when I ask my life coaching clients what their favorite part of the holiday was, they don't discuss baking, decorating, or hosting. Those are usually the things they complain about. They discuss special moments and memories made with others. So, this year, commit to be happy, commit to being present, commit to connect, and commit to making lasting memories with the ones who will most likely be in your life forever.