December can be so much fun...and for many of us, so much work and stress to get everything done and done 'just right'. The family traditions the way the kids remember, the co-ordinating and compromising with partners and family visits, the expectations (sometimes self imposed) of finding the perfect gift, getting the holiday cards done...and more. Some people LOVE all this and thrive on it. Others, not so much. If you find this time of year overwhelming, try a few small shifts in your perception and see how that helps.
Shift number one: deciding what you care about and then decide to really only about these things. Think about WHAT and WHY do you care, and if or how this WHY aligns with your personal values.
If your WHY is obligation this likely doesn't align with your personal values (and all aspects of your health) and so the actions you take, (and the emotion you give to these actions), won't serve you. They will make you annoyed, frustrated, cranky - not super fun for anyone!
If you WHY is appreciation, this IS in alignment and the actions you take, (and the emotions you give to these actions), will be worth it to you, and more manageable along the way. That doesn't mean it's all easy but it makes it worthwhile.
Because even when we ARE doing things we love and doing them for reasons that align with our personal values, there will be bumps along the way - someone will cancel at the last minute, the online shopping will be two days late - but because you associate real meaning with why you are doing it, you can sustain the effort needed to overcome these problems.
When we AREN'T in alignment these bumps bother us even more and we can resent them like crazy. The trick here is deciding what is WORTH giving energy to, and then because you've made that decision, letting the other things go so you can focus your energy on what really matters. It's another way of putting into practise 'don't sweat the small stuff', isn't it?!
Shift number two: deciding how we measure our values...how we gauge our success and happiness. This is another great reminder at this time of year. What we chose to measure affects how we see things...even something as simple as measuring the air or water in a glass (is it half full or half empty?).
For example, let's say one of my values at the holidays is showing gratitude and appreciation for gifts, and I like that value so I'm going to keep it. Now, how do I measure it? Well, it could be an appropriate look on the face of the person receiving my gift, a heartfelt 'I LOVE IT'! or immediate 'THANK YOU', a hug, a written thank you card send as a follow up...or any number of other things that I have DECIDED COUNT as representing my value of showing appreciation. This can get me into all kinds of emotional trouble (and more) because there are layers of assumptions associated with my metrics. And so rather than limit myself to one way of measuring this value, why not allow for many? And release my expectations around what 'counts'.
Take some time to set yourself up for an even happier, healthy holiday season by reflecting on WHAT and WHY you are doing things. Adjust and honour your emotions as needed. Look at your to-do list for the holidays and ask yourself what really matter most based on WHAT you care about and WHY.
Prioritize, delegate and let go of things not worth giving energy and emotion to. Check-in and see what you are using to measure your values and expand your metrics to include other methods and ways of doing things.
Last but not least, try this: write yourself a thank you card dated January 1st 2019, sharing how much YOU appreciated YOU in 2018 and all it had to offer on your never-ending journey of self-awareness and love. End one year and begin the next with gratitude and expectation of amazing things yet to come.