Surviving the Holidays…Skillfully

It seems we’ve blinked and it’s that time of year again… the holidays.  Peace on earth, goodwill to men, joy to the world and all that stuff?  For many of us, it can quickly become stress on earth and ill will to men.  No matter what you are celebrating, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, etc., this time of year can become extremely challenging.  Before the festivities can even begin, we find ourselves experiencing the added stress of financial pressure, family tensions, and our own self-inflicted high expectations.  All of this and then we expect to be able to make ambitious New Year’s resolutions? So, how do we manage to find peace on earth, or more importantly, internal peace, while living up to the ideals we have in our head about how it should all play out? It seems almost impossible.

The truth is, it doesn’t have to be.  Some experts recommend saying “no” when you feel overwhelmed or practicing meditation to relieve stress.  These are both great tools and can be incorporated into your holiday routine.  Listed below are some other suggestions to help you find peace and joy this season:

 Make a “To Do” list and put everything you feel you need, or want to get done, on the list in order of priority.

Lower your expectations – Review the list you’ve made and cross off anything you feel is unrealistic or can be left undone.  Review your list daily and repeat.  Disappointments can be avoided by managing your expectations.  One of the biggest ways to increase your joy is to decrease what you require of yourself.

Make healthy decisions including eating choices and alcohol consumption.  Get plenty of rest and drink lots of water.  By keeping yourself healthy, you will be better equipped to deal with additional stress.

Be mindful of everything you do.  Be aware of purchases you are making and extra tasks you are asked to take on.  Don’t make any rash decisions.  Be realistic of your personal situation – time and money.

Volunteer with an organization to help the needy.  Being of service to those less fortunate can help you maintain a positive perspective, not to mention the happiness you will be giving to someone who could really use it.

Forgive and be empathetic with those around you.  Remember most everyone is somewhat stressed during this time.  It will make you feel good to be the one to “let it go”.  The satisfaction of proving you’re right, lashing out, or snapping back at someone is usually short lived.  Is it worth it? Sometimes the answer will be yes, but most often, especially with family and close friends, the moment is not worth the damage to the relationship.  You will find that forgiveness, self-control and kindness can be infectious.  And most importantly, be forgiving and understanding with yourself.

Incorporating these suggestions into your very busy schedule certainly won’t make it any worse.  So what have you got to lose?  Try mindfulness exercises.  The internet is full of these exercises and they have been proven to be very helpful.  Don’t forget to be realistic about your capabilities and don’t feel guilty about saying no when you have to.

Here’s to hoping you find your peace on earth this year!


Click here for a printable, shareable version of these holiday tips!

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