- Spending days and days looking for the perfect gift for everyone
- Redoing the decorations 10 times to get them right
- Feeling like everyone should be happy and getting along, and then being disappointed when they aren’t
- Driving 2 hours to pick up the ‘best’ prosciutto for your party
- Stressing over how to get your cookies to look like Martha Stewart’s
Not too many Christmases ago I was one of the leading members of the “lets make the holidays as crazy as possible club” and one thing I learned first hand is that expectations can be easily derailed by any number of outside forces. The best laid plans don’t stand a chance against:
Time (sometimes there just simply isn’t enough to get everything done in a healthy, relatively calm way)
Other People (when their expectations clash with ours all hell can break loose)
Money (our vision of how we want to spend on presents, celebrations, and travel quite often exceeds what’s in the bank)
There is nothing wrong with getting swept up in holiday preparations and celebrations! However, you want to watch out for warning signs that your preparations are leaving you depleted rather than exhilarated. If you notice you are more focused on things like accumulating presents for the ones you love than being present for the ones you love, here are some ways to release expectations during the holiday time:
Pay Attention to what matters. Yes presents are fun (I love them!), however the truth is if you disappeared before presents were exchanged no one is going to mourn not receiving the latest electronic, game, sweater, tie, chocolates, etc… They are going to mourn the absence of you. The greatest gift you can give is to show up fully for the people who matter to you.
Pause and notice the things you appreciate most about this time. Do you love the lights, music, time with friends or family? What you focus on will grow and expand, so the more you are connecting to the positive the more positive you will feel. (Yes it is that simple!)
Breathe. Three deep breaths will allow your body to reconnect with what if feels like to let stress go--even if it’s just for a moment
Say No… simplify your schedule by not saying yes to every event and invitation.
Trade In how you think it "should" be for appreciation for what you have. So often we’re in a race to make things happen a certain way and we miss the amazing moments in front of us.
Say adios to perfection. Good enough is way more relaxing than setting unrealistic, crazy-making standards that have you running in 1000 different directions to achieve them.
By taking care of yourself first you get to give the best gift of all: being fully connected to yourself and therefore able to fully connect with others.
And on that note... Happy Holidays!!