Ten minutes to happier holidays

Posted by on Nov 2, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

red fall leavesIt’s November 1st.

So, I’m bookended neatly in between Halloween and looking at the long/not-so-long stretch of holiday season that will carry me into 2017.

And this year, I’m hoping to tweak things a little bit.

Because I do that every year.

So here is this year’s attempt.  You’re welcome to try this out with me if you like.

My rather complicated relationship with lists

grocery listAs always, I’m wanting to feel prepared.  I want a head start on things.  Typically, I make lists of things I want/need to get done.

The thing is, I often I end up feeling oppressed by these lists.

I lose perspective.

I don’t apply a sense of priority to the items on them.

I fret about the things that aren’t done and lose sight of what I’ve accomplished.

And so, rather than making a long, ambitious, frenzied list of to-do’s to help myself feel organized and somehow in control of my expectations this year, I am slowing down and having a short conversation with myself instead.

I am making a different sort of list.

I’m trying to do what I urge my clients to do because well, you know, sometimes I have good ideas and it would be great if I could follow my own advice sometimes.

Let’s give it a shot.  It should take you ten minutes, tops.

Four simple steps to tame holiday stress

beach stonesHere’s how it works.  For each prompt, jot down a few words.  String the four prompts together, and you have a roadmap that will guide you through the holiday season.

1.)  Bring in.  Here is the list of the stuff I want to bring in for the remainder of the year.

These are the things I’d like to feel and savor.

This is the stuff that really matters right now, the stuff that fits with my priorities and values.

This is what I’m inviting over for the holidays.

Write a few notes of what that looks like for you.  Could be activities or plans, could be feelings, could just be a single word.  Sit with it.  Write a bit more if you feel moved to.

iron fence2.)  Leave out.  Here is the list of stuff that I get tangled up with every year.

This is the stuff that sometimes comes from obligation or tradition that may have lost its joy.

This is the stuff that comes from unresolved business.

This may even be the nothing-special stuff that you struggle with day-to-day—work/life balance, stress management, that one coworker/family member/frenemy who drives you absolutely nuts.

Choose what to leave out—just for now.

For the things you can’t leave out, the events or family members or situations with which you must contend, you may exercise your choice differently here.

It might look like “I wanna give this another shot” or “I wanna try something new with this old stuff.”

Piggy bank3.)  Save for later.  This is the stuff that you can set aside for now and revisit in the new year.

This part may be full of perfectly good ideas, quite reasonable notions, and delightful recipes and crafts you’d like to try.

With most things in life, a lot comes down to timing. 

Each piece that you wonder about, each value that you cherish, each task that you contemplate, consider:  does it need to happen in the next eight weeks?  Could it wait? 

If it can wait, add it here.  You can come back to it later.

sand heart4.)  Hug.  This is the stuff that will probably show up whether you invite it or not.

This is the stuff that says, “Try to leave me out, I dare you.”

It’s all very worried about its own importance.

This is the stuff you hug. 

These are the feelings you hold with compassion.

These are the self-care practices that you lovingly put in place to support you during this great expectations!! sort of season.

This is also where the unexpected stuff goes, the stuff you couldn’t plan for, the running late, the hurt feelings.  This is where the grief goes, the missing loved ones, the forgotten traditions or rituals, the reflections on past holiday seasons.

Wrap it all in hugs.

After you’ve made some notes after all four prompts, go back and review each.  Are there any pieces that can be moved to #3 (save for later)?  Try to resist the urge to add more.

Ten minutes to happier holidays

Writing things down is powerful.  If you take 10 minutes to do this, some of these ideas will linger in your head and govern your choices weeks from now—even if you never come back to this list.

This is a list you can post on your mirror for a reminder.  You can burn the list after writing it.  You can share it with a partner or friend as a series of talking points about what you’re looking to create this year and how they might be able to help.

Just by going through the four steps and writing out your thoughts, you’re making an impact on how your holidays will go.

Good luck!


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