Holiday Season is coming up with all the fun activities and gatherings with your favourite friends and family!
Holiday Season is coming up with stress and depression for all the things you MUST do!
Which scenario do you prefer?
The Christmas Season is a very hectic time for most women. As a business leader, you probably have it double up. Expectations from work and expectations from family. In more liberated societies, it is still the women who are expected to do the household work. You want everyone to be happy. But you feel lonely and insufficient because it is all really overwhelming. You think “just take one day at a time and I will survive”. Because for you it is about surviving, not a time for rejuvenation as it should and could be.
Now is the time to change that, at least a little bit.
I know how it is, I have been in that situation myself. Some years ago though I just had enough and asked for help. And do you know what? I got help. When I spoke up everyone around me stepped up. Just beautiful.
So now it is time to start making the perfect Christmas and New Year Holidays – for everyone, including yourself. The earlier you start, the better. With a little bit of planning it is achievable. Miscommunication and unrealistic expectations are usually the main causes of all this stress. And it is definitely not only your own expectations of what you should do. It is also everyone else´s expectations of what you should do.
That is why you need to start talking.
Here are 7 tips to start with. You can probably find other things to do to. Feel free to do them!
1. Gather your closest family NOW and have an honest discussion about everybody’s expectations. Decide on where, what, why and who. Document your agreement and make sure everyone gets their copy. You might enjoy reading this about how my family and I solved how to celebrate together.
2. Make a preliminary list of all the big family holiday meals, just to make an overview of the “food issue”. This may seem like a premature thing to plan but having had a large family I know it helps to plan ahead. If you are aware of it, you might even buy certain items ahead when you accidentally come across them. That might lower the bulk of grocery shopping later on.
3. Food is a BIG issue during the holiday. It can become very overwhelming. Why not make it a bit more potluck? Ask your guests to bring some food to the dinner table – instead of flowers or chocolate as the gift for the hostess. It is fun to share and exiting to try someone else’s cooking. If you feel a strong need to have some control of what will be served you may very well tell the guest what kind of dish they should provide. It will still be someone else’s touch on what they bring.
4. Decide on Christmas gifts together. One or many? Price level? Discussing this ahead will set more realistic expectations. You can decide on one for each person – something they really want, instead of many not so wanted. I hear you – you say this will take the fun and surprise of the moment away! Maybe or maybe not, depending how you do it. One thing is for sure, it will take a lot of stress away. Stress from being afraid of giving the wrong gift. Stress from receiving the wrong gift and feeing you have to look thankful and happy – but you are not.
5. When you feel the feeling of stress creep up behind your back, halt a minute and take a deep breath, in through your nose, hold it for a moment and then breath out slowly through your mouth. Shoulders down. Repeat one more time. This can favourably be done many times a day. I recently learned a new trick to add to this tool – you can read more about that when you click here.
6. Take a Walk & Talk at least once a day during the holiday season. Walk & Talk is taking someone along on a brisk walk and you may discuss anything. The secret with this is that your brain nerve connections increase when you move your body so this will bring out interesting discussions. Also very effective if you have disagreements since it will force both of you to open your mind a bit. Another good effect of walking is of course all the positive effects on your cardiovascular system. When moving your muscles the “eat” stress hormones are making this a very good “back door” for letting your stress go away. (You might also agree to leave your smartphones in the house before you set out, to remove distractions.) Here are some more thoughts on physical activity.
7. Make a preliminary to-do-list for the weeks ahead – use “backwards engineering”. Start from the date when everything needs to be done. Then spread the tasks backwards over the time period you have at your disposal. That will make it clear, also saving time and energy. It will also reduce the amount of last-minute panic. Here is an old blog post of mine about planning larger gatherings in your home.
Does this seem boring? Then make it fun! Use your imagination. Are you afraid of what others will say – because you have ALWAYS done all the work yourself? Get out of your comfort zone, try this new way of thinking and just ask them. Involving everyone will make you grow together. This is a time for everyone – including you.You deserve to have fun and to be able to relax.
Just do it together!
And don’t forget – good enough is good enough!
Dr Annika Sorensen, MD, the family doctor from Sweden who changed focus from disease to health and stress management. She is an Author, International Speaker, Mentor, Seminar Leader, Strategic Session leader. Today she is helping Business Leaders feel less stress, get more done and create bigger success!