We do this to ourselves, you know! Our impossible wish for the picture-perfect holiday, our expectations of a dinner table worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting, the need to out-gift or over-gift because we haven’t seen family members for months, even years on end. It’s a lot.
We don’t have to perpetuate this stress-filled way of being.
We all have choices about making sure that the holiday season, like any other time of the year (and there are plenty of other stress-filled periods we face) is spent in alignment with our core values and not squandered on whatever shiny object grabs our attention moment to moment.
But, for that to happen with any consistency, we have to know what our core values are. Here are mine (after doing several exercises over a number of years) I’ve settled on five:
- Creativity – something my business affords me everyday
- Making a difference – something my clients tell me is true of our interactions
- Personal growth – a long-held self-investment, that I’ll never stop learning & growing
- Responsibility – something every caregiver understands in a palpable way
- Self-expression – an essential capacity to say who I am and what matters to me – I suspect you see that here, every time you open my Monday mailings.
If you’ve never taken the time to sort through a core values list and make your own selection, I urge you to do so. You can just Google “Core Values List” or, use the one Brené Brown publishes, available at: Dare to Lead List of Values – Brené Brown. This exercise will help you clarify what is important to you in every aspect of your life and allow you to align your day-to-day decisions with those a-priori choices (first intentions, that set the stage for all that follows).
Knowing your core values enables you to move forward with confidence about every decision that comes along.
But let’s get back to the holidays and the myriad of choices we’re faced with each day. For example, if a core value of yours was:
- CONNECTION, it would be easier to make that holiday coffee date about the conversation with an old friend, rather than about the restaurant’s famous raspberry chocolate cheesecake.
- ADVENTURE, it might mean you spend your holidays zip-lining through a rain forest rather than with friends and family around grandma’s dinner table.
- TEAMWORK, it could be that you burn the midnight oil on behalf of your workplace, so that the team’s goals are met before the year ends, instead of partying with friends.
You get the gist. When you know what you believe in, and you make your decisions accordingly, you can live without regrets – that’s what alignment allows!
While you’re working out what your core values are, I’ll offer you six simple strategies that can help you reduce your holiday stress while taking care of yourself and others through the season. . .
- Get clear on what matters to you, and make sure those things are part of your everyday decisions – even, or more importantly, especially at the holidays!
- Lower your expectations – even better, let go of your expectations entirely and enjoy what comes your way
- Take a break – and that could include a nap – to refresh your energy so you don’t let overwork & overwhelm get the best of you!
- Eat nourishing food – it is easy to graze throughout the mall while you shop but, sitting down to a healthy meal will serve you for the long-run, and keep your energy level even.
- Start your day in gratitude, instead of reviewing your TO DO list. Finding time to be grateful can make whatever you must accomplish more fulfilling chores.
- Gift with heart-felt love, NOT by overspending your budget! No one cares how much you spent on them; they care that you thought to acknowledge them this holiday season!
Above all, savor the season, enjoy the beauty, blessings, and bounty of the holidays, and let those you love see how much they mean to you with your words, your gestures, and your generous spirit.