Follow these holiday rules* to decrease your stress and increase your joy during the holidays.
- Lower your standards. You work hard all year. You don’t need to prove anything today. So what that the house is a little messy or the dinner is overcooked or your Dad fell asleep before dinner? All of that pales in comparison to the minor miracles you perform all year long as a working daughter.
- Lower your expectations. Now go a little bit lower. For years I was ruined by the images of Christmas in the Jordan Marsh catalogue. That’s what a family gathering was supposed to look like, right? Velvet dresses, china plates, and a happy (blond) family singing carols around a baby grand. Well guess what? Jordan Marsh went bankrupt! If you can enter the day with no expectation of how it should be, you will avoid disappointment. You might even be pleasantly surprised.
- Practice gratitude. Something’s good; focus on it. If you spend the day thinking about the fact you are not dressed in velvet (in fact you are dressed in a polyblend), your plates are not china (they are chipped), you are not blonde, and you don’t have a piano (you have iTunes), you won’t notice that this group of non-blonde, unmusical characters you’re celebrating with, actually make you feel at home.
- Remember, it’s just a day on a calendar. If you think about it, holidays are just arbitrary days that Hallmark printed on their calendars. Print is dead! So don’t put so much pressure on yourself to make this one day so meaningful. You can celebrate/worship/observe any day of the year.
- Create a private holiday ritual – just for you. 5 minutes or 5 hours, it doesn’t matter. If holidays feel more like work and obligation than celebration, try to carve out a little time just for you. Whether it’s five minutes of meditation, a long walk in the morning, or a few hours at the movie theatre by yourself after the guests finally leave, do it! You deserve a little fun today.
- Bring your sense of humor. You will need it. Because if you don’t laugh, you might cry.
- Think like a duck (but not a turkey!). Let things roll of your back. There will be naysayers and critics and Debbie Downers at your celebration. Imagine their negativity is like water on a duck. It just beads up and rolls right off. Pay no mind.
*These are actually guidelines. Remember there are no shoulds or rules.