Ho Ho Ho, ah not so fast said the Grinch. Here we are, it's time for the holidays. While many people find joy during the holidays, there are also a lot of people who feel alone. No matter what side you're on, the holidays can be challenging navigating office politics at corporate parties to those in-laws you simply cannot stand. The following tips are offered to help you find joy during the holiday season.
Drinking eggnog and baking cookies can put some people on overload. All kidding aside, the holidays are stressful for people due to numerous situations, so we'll look at some common stressful situations and solutions to beat the stress.
1. Holiday Parties
Odds are, you'll end up at a holiday party if you are working for a company. While some people have social anxiety, others do not like being around a large group of inebriated co-workers in ugly sweaters, rightfully so. If you face social anxiety and the thought of attending a holiday party brings you stress, have a conversation with yourself before you go and outline what is good for you and know when it's time to go home. If you can see an agenda or outline of the event ahead of time, that can help you plan your exit so you don't walk out when the CEO walks in to offer those acrylic plaques for another 10 years well done. And for leaders planning parties, not everyone is an outgoing salesperson who is comfortable being in the spotlight. If you are leading an organization, ensure that you understand social dynamics when bringing everyone together and cut down the booze to create a safe environment for your staff. Make holiday parties about your people and less about the party. How can you learn about cultures, customs, gift giving, etc. during this time of human centered joy?
2. Dysfunctional Family Members
Let's face it, we don't choose our family when we are younger and often inherit some characters we have to call family when we join our partner for life. If you are single, the choice on who you want to spend your time with is simple. If you don't want to be around certain people, work on your boundaries and self-respect to feel ok saying no thanks to sitting through another dinner with that person who never seems happy for you. If you are married, have a conversation on what it feels like being around unhealthy family members and how you plan to manage your time in their presence, and if it's better to leave the kids at home. If people are downright toxic, sometimes it's best to create your own festivities and your own family of friends who are truly supportive to feel connected during the time off you have this month. Your sanity as a grown adult is ultimately your choice, even if it is hard saying no to family members.
Lexus has one of the best holiday advertisements suggesting love comes when you gift someone a new Lexus with a red bow on top. Well, doesn't that create a set of expectations for the men out there? Unfortunately advertising is designed to provoke emotion to get you to feel certain things, including that of not meeting someone's expectations if you don't make a purchase. Here are some tips on how to keep you wallet and heart safe from over-the-top expectations.
3. Love Is Not Money
Real love is a feeling expressed through action. In our western society, we too often equate money and how the action of spending money demonstrates love. Ask anyone who made an expensive purchase during a time of depression, and you'll quickly realize spending money cannot buy happiness or deep rooted love. If you cannot afford the latest iPhone or luxury vehicle for your loved one, have a talk about expectations and what they expect from you to demonstrate love. Something as simple as getting their favorite Starbucks coffee or cleaning the house might be enough if you've been busy not meeting basic expectations that show care and thoughtfulness towards your partner.
4. Define Your Budget
Keeping up with society can get expensive and it will keep you from getting ahead in life. Create a budget for gifts and stick to it. It's easy to get enticed by holiday marketing tactics offering Buy One, Get One. If you don't have the money, don't buy it, no matter how good the perceived value is to you. If you are saving for a house or paying those student loans off, consider delayed gratification and a smaller budget for holiday purchases or make this the year of homemade gifts. Define your budget or let the marketers do it for you!
Inner-peace is the most important gift you can give yourself. After the unwrapping of gifts, you still have the biggest gift in life, yourself. The holidays are a time to use our blessings in the spirit of service to others to up-lift their spirits, which in-turn up-lifts ours. Here are some ways you can find more joy.
5. Start a Gratitude Journal
Everyday there is one positive thing out of the many things that happens to us when we are alive. Write down that one small thing and focus on how it makes you feel. Why are you grateful? To whom are you grateful to? And how can you let other human beings know you are grateful for their role in your life? One easy tip, if someone has done something above and beyond to touch your life, take a moment to recognize them, be it a thank you card to writing a LinkedIn testimonial. Expressing your gratitude towards others after you've internalized it makes being human worthwhile.
6. Serve Others
Children are homeless, mothers are in battered women's shelters, children at children's hospitals are dying, and our elderly in retirement homes are lonely. These were all things I witnessed as a first responder getting outside of my comfort zone on a daily basis seeing the challenges of our society. If you haven't volunteered before, take a moment and sign-up to serve turkey to the homeless on Christmas morning or organize a donation for children who are spending Christmas day in a shelter. I'll never forget the time I organized a toy drop off at the Children's Hospital. While some guys fought the idea early on, most ended their day in tears realizing how grateful they are to still be alive while these young children fought for their lives. Serving others is why we exist, first and foremost. No matter where you live, there are organizations that need a few hours of your time to help their worthwhile missions.
BONUS 7. I hope these tips help you find joy during the holidays and the inner-light that is within you! Make it a season of gratitude and a time to focus on your future as you enter the next year with a clean mind, open heart, and the spirit of abundance as life presents more than one day of gifts when we allow ourselves the mindset to make everyday a holiday in our heart.