Navigating the Holidays Without the Stress

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Traditionally, I’m one of those neurotic people who is done with my Christmas shopping long before now. Historically, I’ve already written out the recipes for Thanksgiving dinner and begun strategically cleaning my house. There are many reasons why this year is different. If I wanted to live in denial, I could say that I am just “staying in the present moment” now. However, that is a fairly simplistic response compared to where I’m at.It is currently 9 days before Thanksgiving. Society, as a whole has felt an increase of stress, pressure, and exhaustion in the last month or so. The reasons for the increase of stress are as multi-faceted as the solutions typically presented. The list I am about to share with you are the ways that I have safely navigated eliminating the Holiday stress. Feel free to apply any, all or a couple of the suggestions below: 1. Say No: I suspect that part of the reason so many people are over extended is because they don’t know how (or are not comfortable) saying no. Let me be perfectly clear, you don’t owe anyone an explanation today. I advise people that NO, is a complete sentence. 2. Down Time: I typically schedule two half days for me to get “stuff” done. I dedicate one of those days to things like: reading, journaling, blogging, taking long baths, watching shows I don’t normally watch or doing whatever my heart desires. I’m a firm believer in doing this stuff, even if you only have an hour to spare. 3. Gratitude: I literally include gratitude in every area of my life. From having a headache, to getting stuck behind a slow moving vehicle to receiving a bill in the mail. Gratitude is literally a game changer for me. My experience is when using gratitude for negative situations; it can cut the pain felt in response to them in half. While using gratitude with positive situations doubles the joy experienced with them. 4. Written Lists: I’m a huge person for lists; the reality is that most of my lists are in my head. However, when I put the list down in black and white, it instantly shifts the list to become more manageable. One of my initial “go to’s” when I experience any amount of stress, is to write out everything that I want to accomplish. The process of writing them down, allows you to eliminate the stress associated with what you need to get done. 5. Do 1 Thing: This is the mantra that keeps me motivated and productive. The way it works is, before you do anything you want to do, you accomplish one thing off of your to do list. For example: before I eat dinner, I do one thing; before I take a bath, I do one thing; before I got to bed, I do one thing. I’m sure it sounds so simple, but the reality is once you get going the momentum can be enough to catapult you to complete the list before you realize it. 6. Take Nothing Personally: Let’s be honest for a moment, even the healthiest and most well intentioned family members can say hurtful or silly things. If we can make a decision to commit to the habit of taking nothing personally, can you imagine how much freer and happier your life will be? 7. Limit Your Contact: Every human being alive has a limit, whether or not they are aware of it. If there’s anyone surrounding you during the holidays that are any amount of toxic, please limit your contact with them. My rule of thumb is if I don’t feel good around them, I don’t spend a lot of time around them. 8. Ask For Help: I have met so many people who view asking for help as a personal failure. I strongly disagree with this philosophy. My personal belief system is that we were not meant to live life on this earth isolated, therefore it’s healthy for us to ask for help. I encourage people to ask for help with the big things, the little things and everything in between. 9. Focus on the Meaning: No matter what the occasion, I encourage people to focus on what it means to them, personally. Not what our current culture has created it to be, but rather what they desire it to be about. If you view yourself as the author of the story of your own life, how would you describe the meaning of each particular holiday? 10. Set Yourself up for Success: How this applies will be different from person to person. For some people this will consist of having realistic expectations, for others this will include buying food for the holiday get together instead of making if from scratch. Allow yourself to succeed by treating yourself well, and creating an attitude of love, grace and encouragement towards yourself.

I would like to offer a challenge to every person who comes into contact with this blog. I would like to challenge you to do something kind and loving towards yourself every day from now until January 15th. I encourage you to think about the ramifications of treating yourself well and loving yourself. My experience is once this occurs everything is possible.

Jenn Bovee is a spiritual life coach and psychotherapist. She offers in person sessions as well as distance sessions. Learn more about Jenn at: www.JennBoveeLCSW.com