At a recent event someone asked my wife…”Is Robert always this happy?”….with a painful sigh she said “Yes…it’s just so exhausting!!”. About a month ago I wrote a post asking the question.. Is being Happy become a social pathology?
Our present society is a pressure cooker of demands, distractions and disruptions. So unless you are like me in your late mid-life with lots of control over all these forces being in a state of happiness is not always an easy thing to do.
Yet, people feel “guilty” at this time of year where we are bombarded with images of broad smiling families extolling this “Season of Joy…. How do you Create your own personal Holiday Magic Moment?
This expectation brings additional stresses to your already amped up world. It’s time to gather your Emotional Intelligence resources to develop a Holiday Magic Moment Success Strategy
The first challenge is that these expectations are coming at you so quickly..so when stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.
If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You cannot force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
It Takes a Village
If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
Seek the Middle Ground
Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
Spend What You Can Afford
Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.
Planning is Key
Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
Just Say NO!
Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you cannot participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
Maintain Healthy Habits
Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. I always eat my healthy food before I go to parties. In this manner I nibble a little have a beverage and enjoy the people and not all the bad food I don’t need to eat. I swim every day and get plenty of sleep..that’s my holiday gift to myself.
Enjoy Your Space
Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm. I love listening to music or calling some friend far away that I don’t usually talk with. Read or if you’re creative …cook or make something
Remember…. You’re In Charge
Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.