So, you wanted THIS holiday season to be different?
Less stress. More relaxation.
Less tension. More laughter.
Less hectic. Some quiet rest.
We’re fast approaching the climax of our holiday season. Many of us are bouncing back and forth, trying to balance work and home obligations, traditions, and our own energy reserves to make it through the holidays.
We are also expected—or impose those expectations on ourselves—to put on the “perfect” holiday experience for our families.
Oh yeah. And we are supposed to feel joyful and be in high spirits. After all, this IS the most wonderful time of the year.
But, this year CAN be different. Even now.
Keep reading to discover four strategies to help you get closer to having the holidays you want.
And some Holiday special offers at the end.
First, we need to talk about habits.
Traditions are habits that can be changed:
Though we vow to do things differently each year, it seems we still end up feeling exhausted, stressed, and guilty.
One reason: Traditions around family holidays are deeply rooted habits fertilized with emotion. Like roots of a tree, they are tangled and entwined. Many nourish us. Those we probably want to keep.
But, some are dead wood that needs to be pruned. Others emotionally tangle us up every year. And there we are, six years old again. No wonder we are so exhausted. These are traditions that drain us—we need to let them go.
The novel idea that traditions are merely habits that can be changed gives us hope.
Small, Realistic Changes = Success:
How we go about changing these habits—that’s critical. Unlike New Year’s resolutions where we tend to make extreme propositions that set us up for failure, we need to make small, realistic changes. These are authentic changes that give us breathing room in our lives.
Let’s be successful this year --during the holidays and afterwards--in making choices that provide a more restful, enjoyable, guilt-free holiday season. Strategies that will bring authentic change in our lives.
4 Ways You Can De-Stress Your Holidays:
Choose 1-2 strategies that resonate with you, and give them a try:
1. Let Go of Some Control:
Tradition: Being hectic, irritable, exhausted, and taking on most if not all the holiday preparations—what is that teaching your children, grandchildren, and family?
Suggestion: Delegate what you can this year. If tasks still need to be done, consider doing a “Secret Feast” drawing similar to Secret Santa. Each family picks a slip of paper with a task, such as “do the shopping” or “stay after to clean up.” Include kid-friendly activities like “take out the trash” or “make sure mamaw and papaw are comfortable during the day.”
Awareness upgrade: Look honestly at a few family traditions. Habits really—that can be changed. For the better. Examine your own need to be in control, or to get the kudos for putting on a ”better than last year” celebration.
2. Say “no” to three things this holiday season:
Tradition: We can get stuck in the habit of saying “yes” to just about everything our family and/or co-workers ask us to do. Even we women can be macho. We might complain, but we secretly crave the reputation of being the hardest worker, being the best host or hostess.
These are habits learned from early childhood. For example, watching the grownups say “yes” to everything.
Suggestion: Choose three things you can easily say “no” to. Or maybe it’s something you’ve silently stewed about for years. Like organizing the office holiday party every year. Maybe it’s something that pops up spontaneously.
Sure, when you say “no,” after saying “yes” for so long, you might feel some panic. Even disorientation and some loss of identity. And you might get a few shocked responses.
But, be open to surprise. Sometimes we’ve built up the problem to be much bigger than it is—and most everybody is just fine with the change. The others, well, they’ll just have to adapt to the more authentic you.
Awareness upgrade: Besides making a strong, positive change in reducing the stress in your life, you will have less work. Most importantly, you have created a positive, new tradition for your family—that it’s O.K. to say “no.”
3. Move from “Perfect” to “Good Enough”:
Tradition: We get stuck compulsively thinking we only have two extreme choices. Being perfect, or a failure. Not only at the holidays.
Yes, we are set up by ever-escalating standards screamed at us 24/7 by a super-charged commercialized society.
But, if we are honest, also by the unrealistically high standards we set for ourselves.
How do you get to “good enough?”
Suggestion: I find the dynamic continuum to be helpful.
Instead of only two extreme choices, you can shift to a more dynamic way of looking at your holiday season and how you move through it.
There’s a third choice somewhere along this continuum that will work for you.
A visual can help.
· Take a piece of paper and draw a long, horizontal line. On the extreme left write “failure.” On the extreme right put “perfect.” Jot 12 hash marks between the extremes. These are your baby steps.
· Move two hash marks—two baby steps—from “perfect” and write “good enough.”
· List under “perfect” 5 traditions you/your family expects you to do every year. From those, choose 3 that you can delegate or jettison this year. As an experiment. Not necessarily forever.
· Think small. Decorations. Baking one kind of pie instead of three. Write those under “good enough.”
Awareness Upgrade: Laminate your visual. Carry it with you. Pull it out when you are tempted to take on another holiday task. Your goal is to be “good enough."
This is an extremely useful exercise to use in your daily life. Long after the holidays have passed.
4. Take care of yourself:
Tradition: Do you let “incoming” stress bombs take their toll on your health each year? Is that a family holiday tradition? You can experience significantly less stress and discomfort this year—and more joy.
Suggestion: Whatever it is you do to take care of yourself—massage, yoga, meditation, Feldenkrais, taking walks—do it. During times of ramped up stress, we often let go of taking care of ourselves—at the very time we need it most.
Some of our wisest Holistic Healing clients schedule private sessions during the holidays. Why? Because they take charge of their own health, and recognize that by taking care of themselves, they are taking care of their family.
What are you going to do?
Awareness upgrade: Teach your children and grandchildren that taking care of yourself is an important family tradition.
Yes, THIS year CAN be different.
Remember, traditions are merely habits. And habits can be changed. That gives us hope. Especially if we let go of some control, say “no” to a few things, move a couple of baby steps away from “perfect” to “good enough,” and take charge of our health.
Create a new, authentic family tradition of health and well-being. For everyone. Including you.
Here are some gifts for you to take care of yourself and the ones you love:
$10 off all private sessions through Dec. 31, 2014, and
$10 discount on both private sessions and classes with Holiday Gift Certificates.
Already feeling exhausted, fragmented, and stressed?
Maybe a little mad at yourself because you vowed that this year was going to be different. This year you were going to be more relaxed, calm, and if not stress and pain free, closer than before.
You might be trying to remember those stress reduction techniques you learned a few years ago.
But, now they are difficult to remember. Especially during stressful times when you need them the most. How do you do them? When? What are the steps?
Techniques are not truly useful to you if you cannot access them immediately.
They are not truly useful if you cannot generate them yourself. Spontaneously. In the moment you need them.
You can feel better—now:
Would you like to feel better? Right now? Would you like to feel calmer and less stressed? Right now? Would you like to be able to immediately learn how you can generate a quiet space within yourself anytime, any place?
Well, you can.
Thanksgiving Gift--“And…Be Grateful” Breathing Lesson:
Below you’ll find one of my favorite lessons we’ve designed for our students and clients. Originally it was based on a one-hour class on sleeping better and creating more quiet sacred space within yourself. You will hear references to the class.
While having that foundation helps—no worries if you don’t have them now.
Of course, the more experience you gain through group classes and/or private sessions, the more skilled you will be.
You’ll be able to generate a wider range of positive benefits by yourself to reduce stress and pain, to increase vitality, and simply move better and feel better. You’ll also have a powerful ally against the aging of your body/mind/spirit.
Even so, you can gain positive benefits the first time:
Especially if you follow these simple guidelines:
· The first 8:52 minutes: Designed so that you can do it from a chair—that means at your office, in those endless meetings, and perhaps this weekend at the dinner table during long family gatherings.*
· The last 5:40 minutes: Shifts you to your bed to help you sleep.*
*We try to keep the first part of a mini-lesson at 5 minutes--which the first section was--before we uploaded.
· Find a place where you will not be disturbed: Uninterrupted time and space is vital at first. Rarely is someone going to give it to you, so claim it for yourself.
· Be creative—find unconventional spaces: Yes, it is difficult during the holidays when the house is crowded. But, may I recommend some unconventional spaces where we’ve done this mini-lesson ourselves: under a tree, the car, in a closet, the barn, or even the bathroom. I said you could do this lesson anytime, any place!
· It’s not about the movements: Don’t stress out about getting the movements right. This is not gym class. No one is judging you.
· It’s about slowing down enough: So your body/mind/spirit stop racing. So you can feel and sense what is happening and what you are doing.
· Be curious: Notice anything that shifts or is different. Especially before you do the lesson and afterwards.
· Don’t try to make anything happen: By following the verbal instructions, good benefits will happen spontaneously.
· Stay within your comfort zone: Pushing beyond what is comfortable for you will significantly diminish the positive benefits. And possibly hurt you, especially if you have a painful condition or injury. Everyone--do less than you can.
· Later, Change the Phrase: We recommend you choose a few meaningful phrases and switch them around. The class and lesson intentionally includes our spirits--body/mind/spirit are one whole system. And this is a breathing prayer. That said, you can easily shift to a breathing exercise, with phrases such as: “Be Here…Now,” or “Be…Still,” or “Life is Good.”
· Don’t do this one lesson over and over again: Seek out new experiences at Holistic Healing by doing private sessions, group classes, or recorded lessons at home. This is very important.
· Be intentional: That you will generate positive benefits, even the first time. Not by forcing them to happen, but by slowing down. Feeling/Sensing/Listening to what’s happening within you.
· Open yourself to the possibility: That by taking time for yourself—even during the hectic holiday season—you will be generating authentic relaxation, less stress and pain, and more joy.
So even now,, you can make this year different. Grab your laptop or tablet. Go find a quiet hidey-hole. Slow down and do this beautiful breathing lesson. Feel better. Now. Feel calmer and less stressed. Now. Sleep better. Tonight. Begin learning how you can create quiet space within yourself anytime, and any place.
Besides being ABM of Feldenkrais practitioners, Maggie & Ned are organic farmers and beekeepers. They live on their ridge top farm in Elliott County, KY along with their dogs, Scout & Atticus; and, their cats, ClawZilla, TomZilla, Pimento, and Meow Marceau. We will both be writing about a diverse range of topics about how the ABM can help you. Topics from our readers are welcome.