It happens every year. You start the holiday season with the intention of savoring every moment, not getting overwhelmed, and being the embodiment of the season. Then, around Dec. 7, the goodwill begins to diminish until you are willing January to be here with more fervor than a kid with a wish list. This year can be different.
And before you argue that putting yourself on your list this year is just selfish, consider this insight from Nicole Greer, a PATH certified coach based in Sherrills Ford: “I like to frame it as self-leadership. When I lead myself well, I can have an impact on the people around me, and that group of people has an impact on others, and we have impact in the world.”
Follow these guidelines for how to approach the season and you and your loved ones can enjoy a less stressful season while relishing what matters most.
Considering our energy
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First, Greer recommends everyone consider four types of energy: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. A heightened awareness of energy during the holidays can foster greater well-being.
Physically, make sure that you are taking care to sustain yourself during a busy time with little let-up. Mentally, consider how you are thinking and what you’re believing about different situations you face during this time. Emotionally, Greer explains, “There is a feeling scale. We all run up and down the feeling scale all day long. We need to make sure we understand that what we read, put into our minds, hears, affects where we are on our feeling scale.” Spiritually, it’s important to plug fully into your belief system to give you a sense of grounding and guidance.
When you keep all this in mind, it’s easier to enjoy what’s before you. It’s also easier to provide for everyone else you care for or lead.
Put you on your schedule
It's easy during the holiday season to push everyone else's needs ahead of your own, but it's often short-sighted. By the time the calendar turns to Dec. 15, you're worn thin and don't really have the physical or emotional will to get through the remaining flurry of activity with the energy and grace you desire.
Before the calendar gets too far into December, schedule what you need physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually into your calendar just as you would an appointment. What most gives you a sense of well-being? Schedule meal planning, massages, workout time, journaling or meditation time, and time with a nurturing friend (in person or over the phone) for the whole month, early on. That way, you’ll have moments to look forward to, reflect, and re-energize built into your month. A demanding time is when you most need to make sure those elements are in your life as opposed to dropping them to make more room for other obligations.
Manage your schedule from the start
Too often, we say yes to things without looking at the big picture. Then, with the calendar right in front of us, we realize that we've committed to too much for it all to be enjoyable.
“The number one thing a woman can do to take care of herself is to make sure that the things she says yes to are part of her personal mission. During this busy time, you get called on to do things and you don’t even know how you became in charge of something. We need to only say yes to the appropriate things,” says Greer.
Make a list of the usual events that take place and when they approximately occur. Also list everything that you have agreed to do for this season so far. Consider right now what feels most enjoyable and valuable, and then politely decline anything that isn’t a fit.
Negotiate when necessary
Even traditions don’t have to be continued, Greer insists. “We tend to ignore what we really want. When we do that, we move down the feeling scale. Traditions can harness us in and make us feel safe and good, but take a hard look at traditions and see if there are any that you are doing out of guilt or obligation. If so, just don’t do it,” she says.
Of course, by choosing not to do something, you might need to inform loved ones. “It is important to do it early, gently, and forthrightly,” advises Greer. “It is really about asking permission. You might say, ‘I want to ask you for something, and I hope you will honor me.’ The whole holiday season is about honoring. Our loved ones should want to grant that to us.”
That said, Greer encourages you to consider whether or not you should set up a new experience that might honor the other person or family in a special way, maybe even at a time outside of the season.
Ultimately, this time of year is really about what you celebrate and why. Reminding yourself of this truth regularly will give you the guidance and grounding you need during this busy time.
“The word holiday is coined out of the idea of Holy Day. In the tradition that I follow, it is about slowing down and understanding why we are participating in all of this anyway,” says Greer. “There’s real meaning. In my home, we do not get with any other family on Christmas Eve. We light candles. We have a wonderful dinner. We read the story of Jesus’s birth, and we just know that this is right for us.
“We hold everything as precious. It is supposed to be precious.”