Although the year-end Holiday Season is meant to be a time of joyous celebration with loved ones, it has evolved to be a challenging time in contemporary life. From feeling the mad rush to buy everyone on our list the perfect gift to ensuring that our divorced parents and in-laws feel that we are spending equal time with all parts of our modern family, tis the season for stress-o-mania! Good grief, where is the “Happy” in “Happy Holidays”?!
Short of expecting everyone in your life to change, there are two simple practices you can adopt to help you move through this Holiday Season with Grace.
1. Adopt the mantra, “We’re all doing our best.”
Let’s face it, part of the stress of getting together with family and friends over the Holidays stems from the buttons within us that they push. Whether they don’t approve of our career choices, parenting styles, political views and such, or their tightly wound expectations of how everyone ought to behave suffocate us, we often feel ourselves being judged and made small. We can’t change others, but we can give ourselves some on-the-spot coaching when triggered.
When you feel your insecurities being tripped by otherwise well-intended comments, tell yourself, “I’m doing my best [with my life.]” Yes, there may be a better job for you, or you’d really like to find your soulmate and live happily ever after. But, these are not conditions of your life right now, and it doesn’t negate the fact that you’re managing the best you know how. Similarly, when others’ behavior irritates you, your instinctive reaction may be that they want to hurt you. In reality, that’s rarely the case. They’re only speaking or acting out of their own biases, doubts, fears and need for everyone around them to be just so for them to feel safe. So, when triggered, tell yourself, “They’re doing their best.” What they say or do in that moment is really about them, not about you, even though they are making judgments of you and your life.
2. Celebrate Moments of Grace every day.
With so much to do, so many places to go, so many people to please – and that’s above and beyond our normal day-to-day responsibilities – it’s no wonder we’re all wound up and ready to blow! Short of boycotting all Holiday activities, you can take a few minutes every day to move your attention away from all the stressors to all the little signs of Grace in your world.
Take 5 minutes and walk around the block of your office building, taking in the beauty of the blue sky, fall leaves, crisp air and whatever your senses notice in those moments of focusing your attention on what’s good in your world. Take 5 minutes to close your eyes at some point during your day to invite images, sounds and/or feelings that please you – perhaps a favorite vacation spot, the last time you had a truly great belly laugh, etc.
Whatever you choose to do, take a few minutes every day to unplug from the frenzy of the day and connect to the good that’s already present in your world, waiting for you to pause and notice. For those brief moments, let the signs of Grace you appreciate slow your heart rate and brain waves, and provide you with some peace and calm.
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