Holidays can be wonderful. They can also be hell. Complex emotions and expectations surrounding major holidays can take a toll emotionally and cognitively, often impacting our physical well being as well. This short series offers a few things to rethink. Retool. Refresh. Reexamine. Rejuvenate. With a bit of reflection and modification, we can make the holidays brighter and lighter for ourselves and the ones we love.
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This second article on limiting commitments. During holidays, there's often so many events, parties, dinners, plays, parades, and gatherings. We end up bouncing from one thing to the next. Always watching the clock. On the move. Half awake, half paying attention, half enjoying anything at all.
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PICK A NUMBER
I'm only going to do _____ things in this day. I'm only going to do _____ things in this week. I'm only going to do _____ things in this month. Pick a number that feels manageable. Pick a number that feels relieving. Commit & practice saying no. "I can only honor two commitments that week, and I'm already full up. I'll let you know if that changes." "That month is jammed packed for me. I want to give you my full attention, not just one foot out the door. Can we set something up in January instead?" "I know we normally get together on that date, but this year I'm trying to limit my commitments and reduce my stress. Can we choose another date and then re-evaluate moving forward?"
[My] greatest life lesson: to recognize I am solely responsible for doing what my heart says all the time. - Oprah Winfrey
PICK A RADIUS
One of the things that makes holiday events so stressful is an abundance of traveling. Sometimes we can't avoid it. Families and friends simply aren't always nearby. But how far and how often we travel is an opportunity to reduce strain. Think about other options before locking in to holiday travel outside a comfortable radius: Can you visit each other digitally instead? Can you meet somewhere in the middle? Can you trade who travels each year? Can you delay your visit to a less busy time? And if you are traveling just to "get away" - is there a better escape to be had with less travel? Can some quiet time at home serve the same purpose as a far flung get away?
PICK THE BEST
Take an inventory. Take a hard look at all the events you have attended in the past, and are likely to be invited to in the future. What are you most excited to see or do? What would you miss if it didn't happen? What well and truly fills you with joy? And what is fueled by social pressure? What feels more like an obligation? What leaves you feeling drained?
You are under no obligation to diminish yourself to make others more comfortable. - Emma Magenta