For most of us, when we think about the holiday season it evokes a feeling of excitement, anticipation, peacefulness, beauty and more. As the holidays get closer, we often begin to fall into our old patterns that have plagued us for our adult lives. The feelings of needing to buy gifts for everybody, having a ready supply of hostess gifts, dealing with family members, hosting the perfect party and the ever mounting list of expectations.

When overwhelm sets in, it’s time to take a breath and find a remedy for these problems. In your own life, you can make a list of what stressors you are reacting to. On a piece of paper on the left hand side write down everything that bothers you year after year and anything new that is coming up for you this year. On the right hand side of the paper write down a counter action to your problem. Here is what mine would look like:

1. Gift Expectations

Only buy gifts for my family that I live with. I can send loving emails or cards to other people and give to the less fortunate. I can also sit with my family and decide what we want our holiday season to look like and create a plan together. Do we want to have a simple holiday season this year, go away on holiday or maybe make it all about giving to others?

2. Hostess Gift Overload

Not everybody expects hostess gifts anymore. I can buy several of one type of item such as candles or plants to have on hand. I can also make a bouquet of herbs and greenery from my garden or theirs.

3. Dealing with Family

I can practice taking deep breaths and meditation beforehand and catch myself when I feel triggered. I can also remove myself from a situation and have a break so I can re-center myself.

4. Being the Perfect Hostess

My friends just want to have a nice time; they don’t expect perfection. People actually enjoy themselves more if the hostess is relaxed. If I imagine the situation reversed, I wouldn’t want a friend to be stressed to make the perfect party.

5. Too Many Parties

I don’t have to say “yes” to every party. Or I can make an appearance briefly and leave early.

Now that I have a rough outline of what truly bothers me, I can go even deeper with journaling. As you journal, you will uncover another layer to your issue and get to the root of the problem. If you feel yourself falling into old patterns, take a breath and regroup knowing that it is a process and you a learning a new skill set. Next year will be even better.

When we are armed with information and solutions, the problem can no longer affect us so much. Rather than feeling overwhelmed and powerless during the holidays, we can feel completely in control and prepared for anything heading our way.  In this light, we can shift from surviving the holidays into thriving this holiday season.


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