Why do we create so much holiday stress? The holidays are meant for relaxation, for spending time with family, for UNWINDING from all the stress!
Well let me see. Maybe it has something to do with wanting everything to be perfect. Thanksgiving dinner perfectly prepared. The kids (and in-laws, LOL!) perfectly well-mannered. The house perfectly tidy. The Christmas gifts perfect in every way.
Could we be setting ourselves up for disappointment and stress?
A very wise man who gave a fabulous talk at the conference I attended a month ago said that there is a distance (he called it a gap) between how things ARE and how we WANT them to be. That gap is what creates stress.
So if you desperately want a quiet fuss-free Thanksgiving and your sister decides at the last minute to bring her boyfriend and his two kids, that creates stress. The reality might be pretty far from what you had wanted.
So how do we close the gap? There is one sure-fire way to do it and that’s to practice gratitude.
It’s brilliant that someone decided to plunk a whole day dedicated to being grateful into the calendar right before the holiday madness begins. This is a great time to get a “gratitude workout” and strengthen those habits that can make this holiday season a lot less stressful.
Think for a minute about what you have that someone else desperately wants. Maybe it’s a spouse or partner who loves you. There are lots of lonely people out there. Do you have healthy children? Think of those childless couples who would give anything for a baby of their own with whom to share their families’ holiday traditions.
Do you like your job? Do you HAVE a job? There are lots of folks out there out of work and wondering how they will make ends meet and create some Christmas cheer for their families.
Before you get yourself in a twist this holiday season because things aren’t the way you wish they were, stop and take a deep breath. Is that gap REALLY there? Is it REALLY as big as it looks? Is the situation really so far from what you want it to be?
Pencil in an appointment with yourself every day to practice gratitude and thank God (or the Universe or Whoever is out there listening in your faith/spirituality) for all the blessings of your life. For those who don’t keep a calendar, create a recurring to-do on your phone. Hey, whatever reminds you to do important stuff is absolutely fine 🙂
Counting your blessings and practicing gratitude is a wonderful habit to create in your own life. You can also decrease the stress of this holiday season is by volunteering to help those less fortunate. Those who volunteer are happier and less stressed, and by taking your children with you, you are teaching them a lifelong habit of giving back. There are plenty of charitable organizations right in your own neighborhood that need volunteers.
Giving thanks for our blessings decreases OUR stress, and volunteering our time and talents decreases the stress of others. What wonderful gifts to give and receive this holiday season!
QUESTION: What is your greatest source of stress this holiday season? Is there someone out there who would be thrilled to have that same stress?