3 Steps To Happier Holidays

Family, Self

How Are You Approaching The Holidays?

If you’re anything like most of my audience, you probably fall into one of two groups:

  1. Ninja Holiday Warrior: If this is you, you’re probably reading this as you stand in line or stand about to do something. You are do, do, doing. You have elaborate lists of gifts to buy, gifts to send, gifts already bought. You probably have some sort of color coding calendar system with plans on when to buy things like holiday cards and turkeys, you are making travel arrangements, organizing menus, and planning family gatherings. You are do, do, doing. 
  2. Procrastinator Holiday Warrior: If this is you, let’s first let’s be clear: You have great intentions. You are think, think, thinking. You’re thinking about whether you’ll send out cards, thinking about what gifts you may buy, thinking about which events you may attend, thinking about who you’d like to get together with….You are think, thinking, thinking.

Both situations generate stress and overwhelm. Both situations breed resentment and exhaustion. Both situations come from the idea that there is such a thing as a “perfect holiday”. Both situations come from the belief that it’s up to us to make it so. We actually believe that we’re responsible for other people’s holiday enjoyment. 

Reality Hurts:

Oh warriors, I spent many holidays like this and the reality is not so merry. On the outside and in our photo albums, it may look good: Smiling mom and dad, check. Gifts bought, check. Family gatherings attended, check. Yet look closer. Mom has dark circles under her eyes and her shoulders are drooping. Kids eyes are glassy because they have been rushed from the holiday party to the holiday picture and are headed to the holiday tree lighting. Dad’s teeth are gritted and he is squeezing youngest’s hand a bit too tight. Why did I think that what the calendar said we did and what we looked like on the outside could make us feel a certain way on the inside?

Does this Sound Familiar?

Pause to think back to the reality of what your past holidays have been like. Merry and bright? Or not quite. How have you felt December 26th?

Reality is a tough teacher. What I have found is that I felt disappointed, exhausted, strung out, and frankly, thrilled the whole damn thing was over. Not quite merry and bright.

Good news is I know why!

Better news?

I have three simple steps for you that can help you start to shift out of your past holiday experiences into one where you feel calmer, more peaceful, and more enjoyment.

THE NUMBER ONE RULE:

Before starting, we have to be clear on the backbone of it all healthy relationships and interactions is to adopt this mantra or belief:

IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY.

Truly warrior. It is not your job to create the perfect holiday experience for anyone other than yourself. No matter what your family used to do or what your husband’s family used to do. Slaying yourself for everyone else doesn’t work. At least not the way we want it to work. When we race around taking care of everyone’s needs above our own, several things begin to happen:

We begin to breed kids with narcissistic tendencies. They think the world revolves around them because with you involved it does. You are teaching them that mom’s needs (and sometimes dads) don’t matter. You’re teaching them that their enjoyment and experience is more important than yours.
We begin to feel more and more resentment. We may say “we’re okay” or “I’ve got this” but in reality we are hoping our spouse and others can read our mind and see we’re anything but. Warriors, it’s not their responsibility to read through the haze of what you’re passively saying to realize you actually mean “grab me and let’s run away to Bora Bora.”

Let’s make this holiday different. Do you know the definition of insanity? I do. I did it for many years. Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Let’s make this year different. It is possible.

Here are the Three Steps to Get Started
1) REFLECT

Think back over your past holiday seasons and ask yourself questions like these:

What did you do that brought you joy?
What did you do that left you feeling stressed?
Who did you enjoy spending time with?
Who did you not enjoy spending time with?
How did you care for yourself last year?
How often did you exercise?
Which foods did you feed your body?
How did that feel?
What can you learn from how last year went?

2) PLAN 

Get specific and make a plan. If you want things to be different, you get to do things differently. Plan by looking at your past year and then asking yourself questions like these: 

Where can you ask for help?
What can you stop doing?
What would you like to do more of?
How will you prioritize your and your family’s sleep? 
How much money do you want to spend on gifts for your kids and spouse?
How much do you want to spend on others gifts?
How much will you exercise over the holidays? When? 
What do you want your eating to be like over the holidays?
How much do you want to drink?
What will be difficult for you (specifically regarding spending, eating, or drinking)?
How can you set yourself up for success? 

3) EXECUTE (aka GO BE MERRY)

Get out your calendar and write in as many of the following as you can on specific dates at specific times:

Which events you’ll attend (use a pencil if you don’t know actual dates/times yet)
Which nights you’ll drink
When you’ll exercise
Which nights will be late nights for you or your family
Which nights will be spent by the fire
When will you shop for food?
When will you shop for gifts? When will you take the picture for the card?
When will you send out the cards?
When will you write the cards?
When will you mail gifts?

The more specific your plan is, the less overwhelm you will feel. #holidaytip #beatoverwhelm Click To Tweet

TOO HARD?

But wait…did I lose you? Did you start reading because you want a calmer holiday but when you realize what it will take your eyes glaze over? Stay with me warriors! [holidays peaceful different]

This will not take as long you think but it will have long-lasting effects. If you spend even 10 minutes thinking through the next several weeks, you will notice a difference. Choosing ahead of time to protect your and your family’s wellness will lead to a season lived on your terms. If you want to spend more than 10 minutes thinking this through, your results will be even greater.

You are an adult. This can be the season when you don’t let your inner teenager make the decisions. How many sweets do you want to eat? How many nights do you want to stay up late? How many nights do you want to spend on the couch looking at the fire or tree? How many times do you want to exercise a week? When can you schedule a date night or day with your spouse?

Does this sound extreme?
It is not.
It is the path to peace.
Extreme is living in the state in which most of us have been living.
Jumping from one person’s expectation of us to anothers’.
Thinking we control other humans experiences here on earth.
Life can be so much simpler warriors. I know because I’ve lived it both ways (and I’m never going back).

New Reality:

Quick story to show you how far I’ve come from that first picture with my ex and three boys. This picture is from this past Christmas. The boys and I were in Australia to celebrate my wedding to the man of my dreams on Dec. 29th.

What were our plans for Christmas day?
No real plans warriors.
Gasp!
We went for a swim.
We stopped by to hug Nan before driving down the coast to spend some time before the marriage celebration.
Want pure evidence this was a new way of doing things for this Ninja Holiday woman? 
Guess where this wellness coach and her family ate their Christmas meal?
At an Australian McDonalds!
Our planning was so laid back we didn’t think to eat before all the restaurants had closed for the holiday.
Yet when we went to bed, after many laughs and hugs, I thought to myself: Best Christmas Ever.
My memories? Calm, peace, and deep connection with my five sons and soon to be husband.
Exactly what I would’ve asked Santa for.

Living a Life on Your Terms is the Secret to Living a Life You Love.

Getting clear on what makes me and my family happy and then prioritizing that, is where peace is found. How do you want to feel on December 26th? Stiff, overweight, overwhelmed, or disappointed in yourself? 

Now’s the time to pause and set yourself up for success. Stop and get clear on what you want this season to be like

If you’d like to dig further into this work, click here to get a FREE planning guide to help you plan for a more peaceful holiday season. The more consciously we live our lives, the better we feel. I can say this with certainty because that was my life for years. I lived with a consistent level of stress for years, running around from one thing to the next without giving much thought to what those things were. Doing what others wanted me to do, acting how I thought others wanted me to act, saying yes to most opportunities that came my way because I thought that’s what I should do. There is a different way. I urge you to get clear about what you want your life to be like these next several weeks. 

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Let’s make this a holiday unlike past years, one we don’t regret; one where we actually feel the peace and calm that the songs sing about. Let’s go warriors. How do you want to feel this holiday season? Get your holiday sheet here now.

This article was originally published at https://smbwell.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.