Unlocking Happiness Over The Holidays
The holiday season, with its glittering lights and festive cheer, also brings a whirlwind of emotions, expectations, and stress, particularly for the busy professional. As someone who excels in their career and is accustomed to maintaining high standards, it’s easy to get caught up in the pursuit of a “perfect” holiday experience. But the key to unlocking happiness over the holidays and peace during this bustling time may lie in embracing a more mindful and self-compassionate approach.
Here are seven strategies to help you maintain your well-being (and sanity) and unlock true happiness over the holidays!
Gratitude is not just a warm and fuzzy buzzword; it’s a powerful tool for transformation. Studies in positive psychology have shown that expressing thankfulness can increase feelings of well-being, reduce depression, and build resilience.
Start your day by writing down three things you’re grateful for, no matter how small. This simple practice can shift your focus from what’s lacking to the abundance that surrounds you, be it the comfort of a warm home, the presence of loved ones, or the satisfaction of professional accomplishments.
Lower Your Expectations
While festively wrapped in the spirit of togetherness, this time of year can also amplify our expectations of how others “should” act, often leading to disappointment. It’s essential to remember that the holiday season doesn’t wave a magic wand over personalities and relationships. The uncle with a penchant for off-color jokes will likely not morph into a model of tact overnight, nor will the perennially late cousin suddenly arrive on time.
Approach these gatherings with a mindset that anticipates people as they are, not as you wish they would be. This mental shift frees you from the burden of unmet expectations and opens the door to acceptance. It allows you to navigate family dynamics with a sense of calm and perhaps even humor, as you take people’s behaviors in stride.
By all means, hope for the best but anchor yourself in the reality of the present. This doesn’t mean you tolerate inappropriate behavior or do not set boundaries, but it does mean that you let go of the desire to control the uncontrollable. When we stop expecting holiday miracles in others’ behavior, we might just find ourselves pleasantly surprised by the small, yet significant, joys of authentic human connection.
Be Open to New Possibilities
This can be a time of cherished traditions, but they can also be an opportunity for growth and new experiences. If you’re unable to travel or gather as usual, explore what new traditions can be formed. Perhaps a virtual gathering, a different kind of holiday meal, or a new volunteering opportunity will open doors to unexpected joy and connection.
Hold a Perfectly Imperfect Mindset
Perfection is a myth, especially during the holidays when the pressure to create the ideal celebration can be overwhelming. Remember, life is beautifully imperfect, and so are the holidays. By setting the bar impossibly high, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, aim for “good enough.”
Let go of the idealized images of holiday perfection bombarding you from social media and advertisements. When things don’t go according to plan, embrace them with a sense of humor and grace. The burnt pie, the awkward family zoom call, the less-than-flawless gift wrapping—these are the moments that often make for fond memories and stories to share.
Accept that some things will not go as planned and that’s okay. This doesn’t mean you don’t strive for excellence, but rather that you find contentment in the real and the now.
Embrace Your Space
Whether it’s finding a quiet corner to read a book or taking a long walk alone, find ways to embrace your own space amidst the holiday chaos. Personal time is not selfish; it’s necessary. It allows you to recharge and return to holiday activities with more energy and a clearer mind. As a professional who’s used to being “on,” learning to value downtime can be revolutionary for your mental health.
This includes setting clear boundaries with others as to what you will and won’t tolerate at family gatherings. Whether it’s uncomfortable questions or relentless interrogation from family members about your work, or relationship status, or life decisions, just say no with grace and grit. You get to decide how much to share or not to honor yourself and your space.
Agree to Disagree
The holidays often mean spending time with family and friends who may have differing opinions. This year, make it a goal to engage in discussions with an open mind and a calm heart. When disagreements arise, practice the art of healthy detachment. Agree to disagree, and choose to maintain the relationship over winning the argument. After all, the holidays are about connection and love, not conflict.
Remember to Breathe
Breathing is our most fundamental act, and yet in times of stress, we often forget to breathe deeply. When you feel overwhelmed, take a few moments to focus on your breath. Try the 4-7-8 technique: inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. This practice can be an instant anchor, bringing you back to the present moment and helping to reduce anxiety and stress.
The holiday season doesn’t have to be a sprint to the finish line, leaving you exhausted and longing for the peace of the post-holiday. Instead, it can be a meaningful time of reflection, connection, and dare I say… joy!
By adopting these seven strategies, you can navigate the season with more ease and grace. Remember, your happiness and peace of mind are within your control, not dictated by external events or pressures. Give yourself permission to experience the holidays in a way that’s authentic to you, and watch as the season unfolds with more joy and less stress.
You have the power to redefine what the holidays mean to you. Unlocking happiness over the holidays this season is a powerful way to help you step into a new year feeling revitalized and true to yourself!
If you find you need some emotional support over the holidays to reclaim your inner calm and happiness, then let’s chat. Book your confidential call with me so you can thrive this holiday season!
Michele Molitor, CPCC, CHt – Your Mind Detective, is a transformational coach, hypnotherapist, and co-author of the best-selling book, “Breakthrough Healing.” For over 20 years, she has worked with high achieving professionals assisting them in reducing their overwhelm and reclaim their self-confidence, calm and clarity to create a thriving life and career. Connect with her directly to help master your mindset once and for all.