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Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

enjoy_life-The holidays are a time for joy, togetherness, and to celebrate the traditions we most cherish. However, the holidays can also be overwhelming and stressful, due to a large extent to the many self-imposed and external expectations we decide to fulfill. Have you taken a moment to ask what you wish to get out of this holiday season? How about challenging the premise that we must fulfill expectations and that rather, we should focus on bringing personal meaning to this very special time of the year? Below are several tips to help you stress less and enjoy the spirit of the holiday – it’s your choice.

       1.  Plan and prioritize.

What HAS to happen? What is optional?  STOP trying to please everyone. This is impossible!   When you start making a list of scheduled holiday events and tasks (and please do check it twice), try to find things you can eliminate.  Don’t fill the Season with so many activities. Less events will mean more time to enjoy with those who are most meaningful to you. Saying no to less important events will free up time for you and your loved ones.

      2.   Get your family’s input.

What traditions matter most to you and your family? Have you asked them? We have a tendency to assume too much, or think that we know what everyone enjoys most and expect. Try to stick to the traditions that are truly meaningful to you and your loved ones and skip the ones that are not. And do yourself a favor — do ask for their help in making the Holidays special. No need to take on everything on your own. Protect your time and energy. Use those business strategies that work so well and delegate. You may be surprised to learn what others would gladly take on because they enjoy it so much – like helping to trim the tree, bake and decorate cookies, wrap gifts (not their own, of course),  or do some of the shopping!

      3.   Limit your social media time.

According to Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest postings, it seems like everyone in the country is obsessed with picture perfect holidays and plenty of painstakingly crafted gifts, decorations and desserts.  Don’t fall into this trap! Holidays are for building family memories, not proving to Facebook friends that you are a budding Martha Stewart. It isn’t necessary to make individual place setting labels, homemade napkin rings, and a beautiful “table-scape”.  Don’t let social media suck you into the “competitive” side of the holidays.  Your family loves you and wants to spend time with you, and will gladly forego the “perfect” table setting in exchange for enjoying “personal” time together.

      4.   Let it go.

It is impossible to make everyone happy.  There will always be that one grumpy aunt/uncle/cousin/sibling who is never pleased.  Accept that fact, and move forward. While it is worthwhile trying to find a harmonious middle ground, sometimes this is not possible. Make a treaty with family members and/or friends with whom you have differences, and set a later time (after the holidays) to address conflicts. And for those who can’t compromise, accept that you tried, and then don’t worry about it anymore!

       5.   Practice ‘mindfulness’ several times each day.

Stay focused and enjoy what you are accomplishing and experiencing every day. A great deal of our stress comes from wishing things were different. Be especially aware of the “should haves, could haves, if only I would have.” Decide to be aware of your present experiences, and “view” them in a non-judgmental way. Stop the self-criticism. Rather than replaying scenes from our past, anticipating the future, or ruminating about a specific occurrence, practice becoming keenly aware of the present moment and enjoy them as fully as you can (with emphasis on ‘enjoy’).

        6.  Have a camera ready.

Since you are already focusing on enjoying the moment and in creating memories, capture them!  Your family will appreciate having the photographs to remind them of the fun filled holidays. And make sure you order prints and place them around the house! Don’t let your memories get lost in the data stored on your computer. Looking back over the photographs throughout the next year will remind you that with a little planning and prioritizing, you can enjoy another memorable and fun holiday in the future.

Whatever you choose for your holidays, remember that the focus should be on enjoying this special time of the year, and in creating memories with your loved ones and spending time with them.  This time of the year is meant to be fulfilling and filled with love. Just as there are no perfect people, there are no perfect holidays.  Just keep your attitude positive and focus on cultivating meaningful relationships and special moments with loved ones. Cheers!

Dr. Teresa Albizu About Dr. Teresa Albizu

Dr. Teresa Albizu is the Founder & Co-President of the R-A Pinnacle Group. Formerly, Dr. Albizu served as a higher education leader for over 20 years, held a faculty appointment teaching courses in Marriage and Family Therapy, and maintained a private mental health practice focusing on relationship issues. She is an alumna of the National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI), the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Executive Education Program, and the Center for Creative Leadership’s Leadership Development Program. Dr. Albizu currently serves on the Advisory Board of the ELLA Leadership Institute, a training and consulting center designed to advance the lives, careers and leadership of women. Dr. Albizu possesses a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree in Higher Education Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. She obtained a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Carlos Albizu University, completing her clinical practicum at the University of Miami’s Mailman Center. Her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology is from Florida State University. She is a native of Puerto Rico and is bi-literate in both Spanish and English. View full bio »

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