Creating a New Tradition: 5 Ways to Feel Centered, Focused and Joyful Over the Holidays
Early October I thought, “It’s not even Halloween. Why is there Christmas decorations up at the shopping center near my house?
This did not give me a happy feeling. I felt this oh no feeling. The holiday season is already here.
This sounds very scrooge-ish of me, but if you’re honest you have felt something similar. You have felt that pressured and stressed out feeling when you think about the holidays.
Here is why.
Our whole self (body, minds and spirit) literally remembers the pressure from the previous year.
Everything doubles at the end of the year. Your kids have finals and end of the year performances. You are trying to balance the pressure of home and work. You have work deadlines and work parties. You feel the pressure of cooking, playing host to your family, buying the right gifts, decorating, the cute Christmas card of your kids and lots of eating and drinking at holiday parties.And you are still supposed to fit into your holiday dress.
Combine this with the stress that it’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.
I’ve listened to so many women from my private practice and my coaching programs talk about Holiday stress.
Here is what they say.
Stress is the big enemy! It will rob you and your family from enjoying your Holidays.
Stress wears you out and strains family relationships.
There is not enough time. You are running a million miles an hour. You are exhausted.
And so is everyone else in your family. So the stress level is high in family relationships. Even if you are single, all the relationships in your relationships will be stressed.
So here is the set up. It is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year!
Our expectations are really high. Everyone in your family is supposed to love each other, be in good moods, and full of gratitude. You and your partner are supposed to get along perfectly. He thinks you will be making love every day. You are dreaming about deep conversations in front of the fire sipping hot chocolate.
But in reality you are ticked at your sister-in-law because she doesn’t want to help with the food at Christmas dinner.
With such high expectations you are at constant risk for disappointment because things aren’t going to be wonderful 24/7.
Many of you are going through hard times. You have lost your job. You are going through a divorce or you have been widowed. A loved one has cancer. You are worried about your teenager. It is definitely not going to be the idyllic wonderful time of the year.
Be Counterculture and Create a New Holiday Tradition
1. Go Deep and Get Clear
In the second week of my Power Your Parenting program I talk about how hugely important it is to get clear. I discuss how so many mothers are in Mother Fog. The fog amps up big time in the holidays. Now you are in Mother Holiday Fog.
When you are in Mother Holiday Fog you are going a million miles an hour and you are walking around in a fog. You are preoccupied and not present. You feel like a work machine or a mother machine.
Everyone but you is driving your life.
I would strongly recommend taking some time to check in with you. Give yourself an hour and decide what you want for the Holidays.
Take time out, before the holiday hamster wheel, has you spinning out of control.
Start with asking yourself these questions.
- What do I really want for the holidays? So often you spend all your time trying to figure out what everyone else wants for the holidays and factor yourself out of the equation.
- Go Deep. Get past your holiday to-do lists. What do you want for your heart, soul and spirit?
- What is really important to you? What does Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah mean to you? Why are you celebrating?
- When you look back at this holiday season what would you define as successful? Don’t let our culture of anyone else define it for you.
If relationships are your top priority, then what do you want for your relationships? Write down what you want for each family member, or friend. If you really want to enjoy your children, then that would be your number one priority. Then other things like obsessing about decorations or the perfect toy can get in the way of what you really want.
Getting clear about the deeper meaning of the holidays can keep you out of Mother Holiday Fog.
2. Stay Conscious-Be Intentional
A. Take your new clarity and set an intention for the holidays.
Example: I intend to be at peace with myself and my family.
Intentions are going to guide your attention and actions. So for example if my intention is to be at peace with myself then I am going to have to make some different decisions-
- I can’t work the extra shift
- I can go to the party but I can only stay an hour
- I need to go to bed early on Sunday
- I can’t go out with you on Friday
If my intention is to be at peace with my family-
- I choose to not react to them but be grateful for them.
- I choose to spend an hour over at my brother’s house.
- I choose to not see them at their house but I will meet them for coffee.
- I am going to ask for help and not try to do the whole meal by myself.
B. Make decisions beforehand – set little intentions
Be proactive by making decisions prior to the event.
Example: Set an intention before a party.
One of the places we go into Mother Holiday Fog is at parties. We have too many glasses of wine combined with too many cookies, slices of pie, and brownies. And then we are too busy to exercise, so we feel fat and the shame Grinch rides in and whispers disturbing things into our heads.
OR you can set an intention beforehand and make decisions.
How do I want to feel tomorrow?
I will have one glass of wine, 2 cookies and stay 2 hours. I will get home early so I can exercise in the morning.
This works with relationships
I am going to spend these 30 minutes being fully present to my kids.
I know my daughter is going to be stressed with finals and I choose to not react to her.
Get out your calendar now. Avoid the Holiday fog. Take time to get clear about what you really want this Holiday Season.
Colleen O’Grady encourages and empowers women to live their highest and best life. From her coaching programs to her one of a kind therapy sessions, she has helped hundreds of women and teenage girls uncover their true purpose in life, create more happiness, and move to a place of inner peace. Colleen knows that everyone can create this kind of life.
Colleen O’Grady is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist. Her private practice in Houston, Texas has been active for over 20 years. As an approved supervisor on a state and national level, Colleen is sought after to train master-level therapists, psychology and psychiatry residents throughout Houston. Colleen has created innovative coaching programs to give people practical tools for moving forward while also standing on a strong foundation of therapeutic practice.
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