Five Ways to Stay Happy Over the Holidays
This story was contributed by Caitlyn Dunn, LCSW.
Ah…the most wonderful time of the year (wink, wink)! More like the most stressful time of year, especially for all of us “making” the holidays—aka moms. Here are some tips to help actually feel lots of moments of joy during the most marvelous time of the year!
Set Good Boundaries
It’s okay to say no, even over the holidays. Setting firm boundaries helps us stay present by being more self-aware and less stressed. With strict boundaries, we become less irritable and more compassionate and understanding. We also end up doing what we actually want to do and connecting more with the people we want to spend time with. Holidays can become bombarded by obligations and “shoulds,” which can quickly suck the joy out of any holiday.
Ask for Help
Why is it so hard to ask for help? Because it is such a vulnerable act, we actually have to admit we cannot be everything to everyone and do it all (of course, we can’t!!).
Adopt the mantra “80% is Perfect.”
This helps to avoid the sinkhole of perfectionism. There can be so many expectations, perceived obligations, and “shoulds” during the holiday season. When we don’t meet those, we can feel less than or even plain stuck! So whatever you get done or set out to do this holiday season, I’m letting you know it’s enough. 80% is perfect.
As a child, this time of year held so much magic and joy for me (and it was not just Santa Clause). It was the preparation and time spent with family. It was the smells and tastes of the food we prepared, it was the sounds of songs and laughter, it was the sight of twinkling lights at night and happy families spending a little more time together, as well as the touch of ornaments that carry family’s little stories. But to find that joy, we have to be present, not thinking about the laundry list of what we need to do next or what items we still need to purchase. So whenever the inventory in your head begins to build up, TAKE 5. Seize a moment to name 1 thing you can see, 1 thing you can hear, 1 thing you can smell, touch and taste. Getting back to our senses helps us to stay grounded and in the present moment.
Lean into Gratitude
‘Tis the season to get caught up in what others are doing. Take a minute each day to list 3 things you are grateful for in your own life and focus on those things, not what your daughter’s friend’s family is doing for the holidays.
Trying any of these 5 tips is sure to help reduce your stress and increase moments of happiness over the holidays. For the other not so pleasant moments, resist the urge to reach for the alcohol and remember to breathe (the remote control of the brain that can tune into the relaxation channel!).