Take a moment to imagine how you have felt when Christmas is over in years past. Does this sound familiar to you?
Travel back in time with me for a moment…
The tree has been taken down, ornaments are neatly wrapped away and once again, a new year has begun.
Now that the celebrations have come to an end and it’s back to “busy-ness as usual”, how do you feel?
Are you refreshed and relaxed from time off of your normal work schedule? Did you have meaningful and sacred time with those you love?
If the answer is ‘yes’: congratulations for navigating through countless obligations, stressors and social situations like a boss while maintaining your own well-being!
If your answer is more like, “No, I always feel exhausted and depleted after the holidays! Even though I did so much and tried so hard, I don’t feel like I had a lot of quality time with those I love and I sure could use some more rest”. If this is how you have felt in the past, read on! I’ll share with you the secrets for having the best holiday season every time. This is your year to have the healthiest, happiest season ever.
Holidays are a great opportunity for personal growth and self awareness, if you’re rested and up for the task! Parties, gatherings and time with extended family holds a wealth of opportunities to see how you habitually fall into old patterns with the same people. This time of year can also brings up all our biggest issues and fears, like giving and receiving, family lineage issues (old, inherited destructive patterns) along with issues with time and stress management. Let this be the holiday season that changes it all for you!
This year you can look at certain situations you’ve always dreaded in the past as buried treasure that can help you discover who you truly are, not the habitual creatures we have been conditioned to be. You are radiant and beautiful and this holiday is your time to shine!
Before we go any further toward the holidays, give yourself an internal check-in:
- Ask yourself, “Where did I put my energy over the last holiday season and was that a good investment?”
The attention and time you give to any external activity is an investment and
you only have so much energy to spend, so make a list of where your time, effort and money went over the last holiday season. Is that where you want to spend your time, effort, attention and money again? What did you get out of these energetic investments? What made your heart smile and made you feel warm inside? Make a decision to budget your time and energy in order to create more heartfelt, meaningful moments that are worth the time you put in.
- Take inventory of self-inflicted, unnecessary stressors that are elective and make the choice to let them go…one by one. The people that really love you will love you no matter how much you decorate or cook. And, believe it or not, they probably don’t notice all the little things you do that make you stress out anyway. We all seen the stressed out host or hostess who is all stressed out about having a party, which should be fun, but it’s totally not for her and that makes it not fun for anyone else around her. The whole idea is to come together and build community and celebrate, but when there’s too much stressing about preparations, there’s not a lot of time for enjoyment and there’s certainly not a lot of time for enjoying the company of others.
Look at honest your to-do list. Who made all of these requirements on you? Does it really matter if you get everything on your list done? Does it really make a difference if everything looks perfect in your house or do you really have to cook that much food?
What if your family received a more relaxed and refreshed YOU and some of the decorations didn’t make it up or maybe some take out food was ordered and the real nourishment came from you being fully present and well rested to be with those you love? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a family dinner or a dinner party with friends and felt like I didn’t get to be with the host or hostess at all, even though that was the person I came to be around! I know you all know the person who invites everyone over because they want all their loved ones to be together, but they run around stressing and distracted the entire evening or they are just too exhausted by the time the event happens to enjoy it themselves! You don’t have to be one of these people who is so tired and depleted by the time the holiday comes, you don’t even enjoy all your efforts.
My religious upbringing helped me with this-we didn’t get to do any holidays or traditions, so we were essentially free without all the have to’s and family obligations at the holidays. We usually went somewhere warm just to get away from it all, but now that I do celebrate the holidays, I’m careful not to let those made up burdens that aren’t real become part of my experience. And even when you don’t grow up being programmed into all the commercialism, wow is it easy to fall into!
Give the example of wanting to buy for my grown stepchildren and my adopted son Austin, there becomes this elective internal pressure of how many gifts and are they good enough and you can feel that push out in the stores, that pressure is there to consume and to try to prove something with material things and I just keep putting the brakes on that when I feel it creeping into me and I say Whoa! I never even had any of this in my life before, so let’s keep it joyful, let’s keep it meaningful, let’s not just buy stuff to be buying something. I love giving gifts from the heart that are well thought out, but it just amazes me how easy it is to fall into a trap of consumerism that’s unauthentic. And also to treat the decorating or festivities as a burden, if you haven’t had enough alone time and rest to be able to enjoy it.
Be present in every moment this holiday season, give yourself permission and freedom to do what you feel in every moment and have the best holiday season ever. This is elective and take it from me, not everybody does it, so if you’re choosing to be a part of something that’s totally not necessary, it better be fun and beneficial to you.
Ask yourself some tough questions
Why am I doing what I’m doing?
Am I on auto pilot, or is there a good reason why I’m using my time and energy this way?
What things could I take off my list to make room for more energy and time to spend with the ones I love?
Am I habitual with how I spend my energy over the holidays and do I keep doing things that don’t give me the desired feeling I want?
So what if you’ve always been the one to cook the family turkey and everyone expects you to do it? If one part of you likes doing it, but you don’t have the energy for it, create a self care strategy and give yourself a break this year.
Accept that disappointing others is inevitable. We humans have a tendency to not live fully present in the moment. When we are living in the future, we create expectations and expectations create disappointment. You can teach those you love that not only do you deserve to do what makes you feel good in each and every moment, they deserve to have the same freedom. Hold a visualization of everyone in your family taking care of themselves, doing what they want to in a very healthy way and imagine how different a family gathering would be with this reality!
When people come together simply because they want to be together and there are no expectations, something amazing happens and one name for it is ‘sangha’. Sure-schedules may get thrown off, certain people we love to see may not show up and there has to be an acceptance that whoever is with you is the right group at that time.
You have free will to create traditions that bring you joy, build your community and strengthen your family. You also have free will to let go of anything that is elective that doesn’t feel good anymore. Time honored traditions should only be honored with the time they deserve. I wish you a happy and healthy holiday with no guilt, no burdens and no made-up stress. Have fun this holiday season and let your family see another side of you-a more playful and refreshed version that knows about self care!