READY OR NOT, here it comes! It’s the Holiday Season! It should be a time of celebration, enjoying family and friends, and thanksgiving for all that is good. At least that is what we are told through commercials and the continued “Happy Holiday” wishes that commence with the advent of Thanksgiving Day. CAN WE AGREE THAT THERE IS A LOT OF PRESSURE TO HAVE A HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON?
But for the majority of Americans, the holiday season rings in demands and expectations that for many are difficult to manage. Statistically, it is the most stressful time of year. This is proven through the upswing of depression throughout the November and December months. These demands can be amplified when families have experienced divorce, death, dealing with blended families and even balancing the schedules of adult children who now want to begin their own traditions with in-laws and their new families. If you can relate, then this month’s article and next month’s reflections may provide strategies on how to do more than just “SURVIVE” your holidays. This is about discovering tools that will help you to be your “best self” during this time of year.
What brings you joy during the holiday season? Part of this understanding is to acknowledge trigger points that may cause stress, and keep you from fully being your best self. A way to explore what might trigger you is to do a journey of holidays past. As you reflect on those holidays, and begin to recall what especially brings you joy, consider for a moment what has changed and may no longer be possible due to family and friendship changes. This could easily become a subconscious trigger. For instance, this will be my first Christmas without my mother-in-law, the person who pulled all her boys and their families together for Christmas magic and love. By reflecting on the joy she brought and knowing that she will no longer be here to share the future together, I can reflect on “What can I do this holiday season that respects my own experiences of her to continue to find peace in the holiday traditions?” This exploration can set the groundwork for success and eliminate a possible trigger for you and your loved ones who can also be subject to the same triggers.
What I realized first, when I did this exploration, is the need to “frontload” the conversation with the other family members on how we can continue to have a fabulous holiday. To realize that the holidays are a shared affair can mitigate any negativity. It is a great opportunity to empower everybody to come together. Communication will end any assumptions anyone is feeling. As you reflect on who will be in your holidays this year, the simple question you may ask your family is, “What do you want this holiday season to look like for you to feel complete?” This question can open the door to establish a conversation of respect, knowing each family and friend may have changed in some way over the last year and may need something different. It can also reveal whether others have some of the same triggers as well.
Reaching within yourself to understand what you need to thrive in this holiday season will empower you for others. How will you redefine what you love to celebrate that brings value and meaning to this season? There are many tools and techniques to guide you so that you can be your best self throughout the season.
Another key suggestion might be, “What does my best self feel like? When do I enjoy myself the most so that I can enjoy others better?” These are meaningful ideas to consider during this emotionally charged time of year. It is often difficult to enjoy the holidays if you don’t fully understand what you need from the holidays. Part of that understanding is to acknowledge your trigger points that may cause stress, and keep you from fully being your best self.
I would like to invite you to consider a few techniques to guide you to create a joyous holiday season. Consider what traditions make this season meaningful and share your experiences with your loved ones to gather their thoughts. Likewise, encourage them to share how the holidays can be more valuable for them. This may mean creating a conversation of compromise. Think about what causes stress for each of you.
In next month’s article, I will discuss further ideas to consider to release unwanted stress and create the best holiday season possible for you and those you love. After all, the road you pave will only be as smooth as you allow it to be. Let’s take this drive together for a happy journey.
By Christina Dalton, MS, PPS, PCC, EYH Life Coach
Christina Dalton is the Principal of EYH Life Coach. She applies her own personal and career transitions along with several degrees and credentials to provide insight and knowledge into the coaching experience. Christina handpicks her staff, all of whom are ICF credentialed and have unique experiences to create invaluable coaching sessions.