If you are like me, the holidays present an array of mixed emotions-excitement, depression, happiness, sadness, fear, anxiety, and overwhelm, to name a few. Some days, I experience them all in one day!

I want the holidays to be a time of joy – a time of reconnection and merriment. That’s what I want, but it’s not easy to achieve, not when I feel the pressure to create a Pinterest-worthy experience for my family and friends. That’s when the negative emotions begin to surface. Instead of feeling joyful, I get overwhelmed and then a little crabby, followed by just wanting to go to bed and wake up in March.

But, here’s the thing. I do it to myself. No one forces me or even asks me to re-create Martha Stewart in my own home. It’s my choice to feel this pressure. It’s also my choice to put a stop to it right now. This year. This season.

If I learned anything from COVID, I learned to appreciate the little things. I’ve learned that less is often better than over the top. I’ve learned that worthy relationships are sustained over mugs of coffee, glasses of wine, or impromptu Zoom happy hour with friends. Not overly decorated holiday homes with lots of perfect food and presents. I don’t want to forget these lessons. I want to carry this part of COVID throughout my life.

Here are my tips for not getting sucked into the holiday hype.

Numero Uno – STOP! Right where you are, stop and be silent for 60 seconds to quiet your mind. You can’t be your best self with a cluttered brain. You also can’t hear others offering to help when your brain chatter is louder than a chainsaw cutting down a noble fir!

After that, here are three easy-peasy ways to stay grounded and enjoy the holidays.

  1. Begin each day of the season with an expression of gratitude. You can’t believe how effective this is. Say it out loud, write it down, or say it to yourself, but express gratitude. This activity will start your day off on a high note.
  2. When overwhelm seeps in, take stock. What can be taken out of the equation to help you feel less stress? Do you really need a tree in every room of the house? And do you have to initiate planning the office holiday party? Maybe someone else could handle it this year.
  3. Schedule time off from work. Even just a half-day off to run errands. Don’t try to compete with the weekend “runners.” Doing so will increase your frustration and anxiety.

Please remember that you matter. You matter just as much as the people you are trying to please this season. With that in mind, care for yourself first. And if the star is crooked, it’s OK.

Cheryl C Jones

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