Tis the season to be jolly and yet for many it is a season of dread and anxiety. It is hard to believe that it is that time of year again. It seems like just yesterday that we were decorating, shopping, wrapping, baking and singing Joy to the World.
Where did the past year go and how do we find our JOY when we feel overwhelmed and stressed in and around the holidays?
The holidays can be a wonderful and magical time for so many yet it is also a time that can be incredibly difficult and challenging.
The question is WHY?
Life is hard.
Our lives are often spinning out of control tied to schedules, calendars and to-do lists that never end. Life is busy. We run on empty all day long and fall into bed exhausted every night praying we can actually get some sleep.
Divorce rates are high. We lose loved ones. Families merge. Traditions are lost. People are lonesome and sadly, some are alone.
Jobs are lost. Money is tight. People are hungry and for some there is no place to call home.
Families fight. Families fall apart and fall back together again. People hurt each other. Hearts are broken.
Life is hard.
It is no wonder that the holiday season can be a challenging time of year.
If you are struggling to navigate the holidays, feel overwhelmed and cannot find your JOY, read on and remember some of these important tips on how to put the JOY back into the season.
- You are not responsible for making others happy: If you are taking on the role of trying to make others happy ALL the time; stop. I understand that this is easier said then done. I tend to worry about everyone and I am always trying to make sure that everyone is happy. Especially during the holidays. However, it is important to remember that it is impossible to make everyone happy. People are responsible for their own happiness. It is not up to you.
- It is OK to say NO: Life is busy and it is difficult to strike a balance during the holidays. Set realistic expectations that are manageable for you and your family. Set boundaries and remember that it is okay to be selective and to sometimes say no. Stop feeling guilty and taking on more than you should.
- Simplify: We live in a cluttered world. Our homes, cars and desks are cluttered. We have too much stuff and the holidays are much the same. Simplify this year. Buy less, shop less, bake less, wrap less, cook less and spend less. Focus on those things that are most important and life automatically becomes less cluttered. The less you have the more you have.
- Forgive: The holidays can be difficult because people cannot let go of the past. Life can be filled with regret, anger, blame and an inability to forgive. Instead of bringing people together, the holiday season can shine a bright light on all that is wrong in our lives instead of everything that is right. Find it in your heart to forgive yourself and those that you love. You will be happier and find peace.
- Take care of YOU: When you feel overwhelmed and stressed, it is critical that you take a time out for you. Pamper yourself and carve out the time to do the things you enjoy. Enjoy a glass of wine by the fire. Read a good book. Write. Go to a movie. Exercise. Go out for a date. Meet your girlfriends for lunch. Take a nap. Find what makes you happy and do it. You deserve it.
- Give to others: Giving is a gift to others and it is a gift to yourself. Sharing and giving feels good and creates happiness. Be kind. Open up your heart. Volunteer. Pay it forward. It will brighten your holiday season and reminds us what is truly important in life.
- Compromise: The holidays can be difficult when spending time with family, sharing our homes and especially when families have merged. Traditions are important and it can be difficult letting go of traditions from the past. Find a compromise. Keep an open mind. Be flexible and remember that while change is hard, change can sometimes be good and with time new traditions mixed with the old can become a special part of your life.
- Practice gratitude: We ALL have tough stuff in life. It is easy to focus on everything that we don’t have versus what we do have. Remember that regardless of how difficult things might be, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Look for the good in your life.
- Be positive: It is easy to get stuck in negativity but remember that happiness is a choice. You can choose to be positive or you can choose to be negative. It is far easier to find your joy during the holidays when you have a positive attitude.
The holidays can be difficult but empower yourself to do something about it. Take the steps to help navigate the craziness of this busy season and with awareness, you can find your JOY.
My hope for each and every one of you is that you will have a blessed, relaxing holiday filled with lots of love and yes, JOY!