Many of you may be traveling over the next week or have visitors coming to you to celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving.
While the focus is on the feast, it may be your emotional wellness that is more strained than your waistband.
The holidays—the time that’s supposed to be so magical and wonderful—are often the hardest time of year.
Part of this is because of the temptation of all the extra food around.
This leads to inner conflict. You may want to celebrate with food, but then you feel guilty about it. Or maybe you’re successful at resisting all that temptation, but then feel deprived and resentful. Or you may rebel at restraining your eating and binge on everything in sight.
There may also be the stress caused by your perception of family expectations that you don’t feel like you can live up to.
Or worse, your own expectations that everything has to be perfect.
This may mean you pack too much into your to-do list.
The result is you’re challenged when your priorities aren’t shared by others, which results in family tension. Again, you might turn to food to try to comfort yourself and deal with the stressful feelings.
You put your own self-care at the bottom of the list so you aren’t taking care of you.
It may also mean you spend too much time on details that don’t really matter and miss out on the things that do. This could look like staying up late trying to get every dish looking perfect, but then you are so tired that you scream at your kids the next morning. What’s really more important to you? Having a perfect dish, or getting enough rest to be a great Mom?
All of this can lead to a physical and emotional hangover.
There’s a lot about this time of year that can impact your wellness—whether it’s gaining weight, or having your emotional wellness impacted by depression, overwhelment, and stress, as well as challenging relationships.
Here are 9 things that you can do to break the holiday stress tradition:
- Take time for you. Make this your number 1 priority. Schedule your calendar around taking even 5 to 15 minutes every day to meditate or exercise, or just lounge in a bubble bath. And make sure you get enough rest so that you can maintain the best possible version of you.
- Love the ones your with. It’s easy to criticize when your expectations aren’t being met, so spend at least a few minutes every day focused on the best qualities of everyone you love and forgive them for not being perfect. And most importantly forgive yourself for not being perfect.
- You are only responsible for you. Release yourself from the responsibility for anyone else’s happiness. Their reaction is their reaction. You are in control of how you react.
- Align your actions with your priorities. Prioritize your to-do list so that what you’re doing aligns with what you truly want out of the holidays. Beautiful dish or great Mom? What do you really want? What will your kids really remember?
- Release the need to do everything yourself and either ask for help or let things go. This may mean paying a few dollars to have the store wrap your packages, or being OK with the wrapping job your partner does.
- Focus on all the things you appreciate in your life. There is so much that you already have that is amazing. Pay more attention to what you do have rather than resenting what you don’t.
- Focus on all the reasons you want to start the New Year feeling great. Do you really enjoy the emotional and physical hangover you have on January 2? What would change if you started the New Year, energized, happy, and satisfied?
- Celebrate each tiny thing that you do that creates your balanced and fulfilled holiday experience. So you don’t get a workout in every day. Did you do it 3 days this week? Did you park at the far end of the lot and walk? Did you go for a walk around the block when Uncle Ralph started in on that story you’ve heard 1,000 times before? Count and celebrate even the smallest thing!
- Reach out for support to help you get through the challenges you’re facing. This is not the time to go it alone. If you need support, ask a friend, hire a coach, or log-in to a free on-line support community, like transformation.com.
Ultimately, getting through the holidays feeling healthy and happy is about letting go of the need to be perfect. It’s reaching for the hope and belief that life can get better and better. It’s prioritizing your time to match up with what you really want.
Together we can do it!
Glad I am not celebrating Thanksgiving…no stress….but I have started allocating Christmas presents I have bought slowly over the last month to all my loed ones. So I don’t have to rush out specially for Christmas shopping….. Ute xx
Love your plan of ease! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you Hanna for this excellent checklist! And happy holidays and Thanksgiving to you! Hugs, Sharon
Thanks, Sharon! Happy Holidays! So appreciate you!
Great post! So rich with wonderful information! What jumped out at me the most was the line written in bullet point number 3, “Release yourself from the responsibility for anyone else’s happiness.” Always a great reminder! Thank you.
Thanks, Cathie! I appreciate your reading and commenting!
I wish I had found the time to read this when you posted it! I was the one staying up until 1:30 the night before our Thanksgiving dinner making sure the Apple Cream-Cheese Praline Bundt cake turned out exactly right. (It still didn’t, and might have been the ugliest cake I’ve ever seen, but nobody seemed to mind.) Thanks for these reminders, which I’ll definitely use at Christmas!
Wonderful post, as usual!
Thanks for sharing, Julia! Love that example that nobody minds a less than perfect cake. Glad the tips will be helpful for Christmas!