“Oh, that’s right. Next week is Thanksgiving.”
Pause and audible sigh followed by laugh.
This was the scene in the middle of a meeting last week. In my office, I spend much of November and December supporting people as they brace for the impact of the holiday. What is it about the holidays that leads to this sighing and laughter? Does it really have to be this way? I believe it’s possible for you to not only survive this season but also thrive.
Here are a Few Tools To Build a Holiday Survival Kit
Get clear about your expectations. One of the stressors of the holiday season is the multitude of expectations for what the holiday should be. From Hallmark movies to the traditional Christmas Pageant to the paintings of Norman Rockwell, many of us have stories about the holidays. Although these stories can be helpful, they can also lead us to develop hidden expectations. When you’re lived experience doesn’t fit with your story or your expectations, it can be really easy blame ourselves or others. After all, an expectation can be a premeditated resentment. So what can you do? Spend ten to fifteen minutes free-writing or listing your expectations for the holiday.
Release your expectations. Easier said than done, right? One strategy to release them is to honor your longings and invite your Higher Power in…you can place your list in a special box or container that represents the Divine. You could burn your list and imagine the spoke wafting to the heavens. You could carry your list with you, and when you notice your body reacting, simply touch the list and invite your Higher Power to help you ease the feeling. The key is to honor your expectations and offer them to a Source that is bigger than you.
Set an intention for your holiday. Your intention can be an anchor to help you return to yourself and your Higher Power. How do you want to engage others this holiday season? What word or phrase comes to mind? You can write your intention on a sticky note and carry it with you. You can take a picture of something that represents your intention and make it the lock screen on your phone. Between now and January 2, 2020, commit to reading or focusing on your intention at the beginning of each day.
Write yourself a permission slip. Brene Brown writes about the value of giving yourself permission. Giving yourself permission provides space—space for your humanity and others. What permission do you need to grant yourself? Do you need permission to say no to an event, to leave a dinner early, to feel your feelings? The list goes on and on. In addition to your intention, write yourself a permission slip. Hang it up in a place where you see it daily.
Find a bookend buddy. In times of stress, we can forget that we are not alone. A bookend buddy is a friend that can commiserate with you as well as remind you of your intentions and your permission slip. Before going to a dinner, event, or weekend that pokes and provokes you, connect with your bookend buddy. Share your intention and your permission slip with them. After the event, check back in. Let your buddy know the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Here are five tools to begin your holiday survival kit. If you would like help creating and enacting your holiday survival kit, I would be honored to help you. Call me at 717-966-1210 for a free 15 minute phone consultation or sign- up on-line.