This year, before stepping into the month of overindulgence, shopping, family gatherings, holiday obligations, traveling, and cooking take 5 minutes to think about what you want out of your holiday season. That’s right, I want you to sit down and write out thoughtful answers to the following 5 questions:
- What are the top 5 activities that would make me happy this holiday season?
- What are the top 5 activities I do not want to do?
- Who are the top 5 people I would want to spend time with?
- What are the top 5 ways I would like to take care of myself?
- What are the top 5 actions I would like to do for others?
If you can’t think of 5 answers for every question, or if some overlap no big deal. What is important is you write them down before the month gets underway. Otherwise, if you don’t plan your holiday, others will do it for you, and then you are stuck with obligations that make you cringe. I liken the holidays to a riptide, you can let the tide sweep you under or you can swim through it and ride the wave. So let’s ride the wave!
Let’s face it a lot of what causes us stress through the holidays is committing ourselves to activities that make us unhappy, surrounded by people we don’t particularly like. Or even worse we overcommit and overspend. So why not take the time to reflect on what you want for your holiday season? This simple act can greatly reduce the amount of perceived stress you experience this month.
- What does your dream holiday season entail? Are you relaxing at home with no pressure to visit friends and family? Traveling to an exotic location? Are you involved in volunteer projects that bring warmth to your soul? Imagine what your perfect experience will be and write it down. And don’t forget to ask those close to you the same question. Getting everyone onboard in the household will help make everyone’s season less stressful and more enjoyable.
- How many of these activities are expectations of yourself or others? Could you investigate and find out if you can skip out or reduce some of your time or finances that you allocate to people/gifts? Are you worried about offending someone? A lot of what we think would be unreasonable or offensive to others may not really be in their minds. Do not be afraid to turn down invites, or request not to exchange gifts. Everyone understands how busy and expensive this time of year can be so don’t be scared to stick up for what you want.
- Have there been holidays that have passed by and you wished you would have made more time creating memories with certain people? Are there people who you find bring negativity to the season? The spirit of the season is affected so much by the people around you, that it makes perfect sense to surround yourself with positive and happy people that bring you joy.
- Do not forget to take care of yourself! Make time for the things that help you recharge. Is that a yoga class, morning run, movie night in, or a Swedish massage? Think of what you would like to treat yourself to this month, and do not feel guilty about it. You have to put yourself first in order to be present for others.
- This is the season for giving. But not all acts of kindness have to be monetary. Think of ways you can help others this season that would bring happiness and fulfillment to you. Maybe that means volunteering at the local food bank, or helping a neighbor hang their Christmas lights, or maybe it’s letting someone have your place in line. Paying it forward not only brings warmth to your soul but also inspires others to do the same. So help spread kindness this season.
Creating a more purposeful, intentional holiday season can replace feelings of stress and frustration with gratitude, fulfillment, and happiness. All it takes is 5 minutes to think about what you want the holidays to mean for you this year. You may not get to choose all of it, but there is a world of difference between creating your holidays and just letting them happen for you.