I would first like to start by wishing everyone a Happy Holiday. I was recently in a conversation with someone, and they began complaining about the holiday season because they are forced to spend time with their in-laws, shop for gifts, run errands, and the list went on and on. These frustrations left me somewhat puzzled because I experience an incredible sense of excitement when the holiday buzz is in the air. Personally, I do not think that we should celebrate on specific days for the purposes of tradition, but rather, express our thanks, love, and pleasure for the people in our world on a regular basis. But this is not the intent of this blog post, and instead, I would like to discuss the stress associated with the holidays and how all of us have the ability to experience enjoyment versus the magnitude of tension that enters our world.
The holidays are meant to provide us with time to be with our family, friends, and ourselves. We may receive recognition, gifts, and love, and I personally do not know what is better than these acknowledgments. But with all of this being said, we often do not provide ourselves with the opportunity to enjoy the moment, experience the emotions, and just let loose.
What I have found is that many people associate the holidays with pressure, and even a greater number of people yearn to get back to their “normal” routine because their working life is far “simpler” and less hectic than their holiday life. Does this mean that you are just so enthusiastic about your career that you desire to return to the workplace; or, does this mean that time with the family leads to feelings of pressure? I believe that the “holiday blues,” will potentially be on the rise this year, as a result of the extreme financial setbacks people are experiencing which could exacerbate an already “stressful” time. But does it truly have to be that way?
What if you were able to re-associate the holidays and grant yourself permission to enjoy each moment while eliminating the strain that you once felt?
After many conversations, and taking time to analyze this debacle, I believe that I understand why the holidays lead to incongruent emotions. As the month of December approaches, the anticipation of enjoyment and high-level expectations lead to inflated levels of pressure, making it almost impossible to truly take pleasure in the holidays.
Let’s assume that there is a continuum in your life during the holiday season where one extreme is stress and the other is enjoyment. With each event that takes place during this time period, you will either be heading in the direction of your choice, or the direction that is undesirable. With this being the case, I am going to provide you with a strategy that I have used in the past called Re-association, which enables you to take the negative stress from your past and shift your perspective in order to enjoy the present moment.
I decided that the best way to begin this exercise is to ask people about stressors they experience during this time of year through various discussions on Linkedin. I am confident that these 9 areas comprise the main components of stress in your life, but if there is a challenge that you are facing that I have not addressed, please contact me via the ASK JARED section or just leave a comment, and I will work with you to overcome this barrier.
Without your in-laws, you would not have the fortune of being married to the love of your life. Without your in-laws,you would not have the pleasure of having children. Although they might be difficult, remind yourself that these people have enabled you to have a family and experience love, which are two of the fundamental principles in life.
Shop within your means because there are no gifts that will ever surpass the value of your love that you provide to the people in your world. If you do not have anyone to shop for, I encourage you to purchase a small gift for someone you know who is in need because the act of giving will bring incredible joy to your world.
Realize how fortunate you are to be invited to these parties. Recognize how wonderful it feels to laugh with your friends and family. Appreciate how incredible it is to watch the people in your world smile while attending these gatherings.
How liberating will it feel to experience self control this year? Once again, start with the end in mind and pretend like it is January 4th 2010, because this is usually the time when people begin to get sick due to their poor choices. This year, you can choose not to join this group, and instead, re-associate your food choices and control these urges.
Just go with the flow. Whether you are running around with your spouse, children, parents, friends, etc., feel fortunate to have these people in your world. Make the best of the situation by telling jokes, reminiscing, or simply just holding hands!
You will need to prepare for the festivities, but at the same time, start with the end in mind, and picture everyone smiling from ear to ear because the holiday time is here. There should be no pressure as the only person judging you is yourself, and since you have committed to the re-association process, you will realize that the only thing that matters are the little things that bring you love and joy.
“WHAT IS THE POINT?” When we allow ourselves to begin the comparison game, regardless of when it happens, we will always lose. The holiday season is not a competition, rather a time to simply enjoy yourself. Forget about what you did last year, forget about who gives or receives the best gifts, and forget about whether or not the food meets the standard of everyone at your party. These are all surface level insecurities, whereas the holidays are the time to enjoy the little things in life.
This is stressor that often surfaces with a single parent, widow or widower, abandoned child, etc. Although this is going to epitomize the P.O.P (POWER OR PERSPECTIVE) mentality, I encourage anyone who deals with this stress to get outside your comfort zone, and stop wallowing in your own misery. Visit an orphanage, senior center, friend’s house, singles party, shelter, etc. Giving for the sake of giving will enable you to feel like you have contributed in a positive way and etched a mark in someone’s life. If you step outside your world, and your suffering, you may just discover the immense power you have to change someone else’s life and make a huge difference in your own.
Having come from a blended family, I know this often leads to stress, but does it have to? Feel abundant because you will may have the opportunity to celebrate, more than once, and enjoy the holiday season with several groups of people who love you more than the world.
I understand that the re-association process is something that sounds wonderful in theory, but might result in some difficulty when it comes to implementation. But what I encourage you to recognize is that the amount of stress you inflict upon yourself is YOUR CHOICE. You have the ability to make this year different than the past, rather than expecting the worst, and continuing with your old pre-programmed ways of thinking. Be a leader and empower those around you to shift their perspective, re-associate, and answer this question:
What does this mean to you? Please leave a comment.
Some pictures from Flickr.
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