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Living Happier Through the Holidays: Have a Plan

Have a Plan

I love the holidays. Every year I say I am going to take time to really enjoy them and before I know it they are gone. This year I am making a commitment to myself to stop, pause and really enjoy this time of year. As part of that commitment throughout this season, I am going to be writing specifically about Living Happier in the Holidays: my struggles, thoughts, and tips for the holidays. I would love for this to be a conversation so please share in the comments or via email any questions, struggles, thoughts or tips you might have.

Last week I kicked off my series on Living Happier During the Holidays

Thanksgiving is 2 days away and I am sure you already have a plan for where you are going to be spending the holidays, who you are going to be gathering with and what you are suppose to be preparing.  So the overall plan is done.  Now, I am going to ask you to get a little more detailed in your plan.  When you have a detailed plan you can head off potential stressors, prepare for pitfalls and get some of your needs met.

Of course, I have a few questions to get you thinking about the plan.

What about the Thanksgiving holiday is particularly stressful? If you did the same thing last year, look back and ask yourself where did it go wrong? Where was it amazing?  If you are starting a new tradition what are you most excited about what are you most stressed about? Once you figure out the answers to these questions you can start to develop a plan.

Here are a few scenarios:

This is the first year you are hosting the dinner.

Excited About:  Trying new recipes and hosting everyone at your place.
Stressed About: Getting everything to be done at the same time and that you won’t be able to balance hosting and cooking.
Plan: Ask for help when it comes to balancing the hosting and cooking.  Figure out which one you want to participate in the most and ask someone ahead of time to be the point person for the other. So if you decide you want to cook more, ask your sister to do some hosting duties.  Make a plan for how that will work, are you having snacks ahead of time, will there be games, or watching the parade and football? As someone who has experience to help you with the timing and teach you the best way to handle that issue.  Make sure you take time to savor the time in the kitchen and soak up the parts of the day you really enjoy.

You will be away from your family for the first time.

Excited About: Trying something new.  Being with friends or family that you normally aren’t with.  Missing all the family drama and just enjoying the holiday.
Stressed About: Feeling guilty.  You have always been home for the holiday so your mongers are really out to play.
Plan: Call your family first thing in the morning maybe you could even Skype with them as they are making the dinner.  Have a plan for when you will see them next.  Then let it go. Enjoy your day and doing something different. Remind yourself that just because you aren’t with family and trying something different doesn’t’ make you a bad person–just someone who enjoys change.

It is the same old thing as every year.

Excited About: The tradition of it all.  Getting to be with friends and/or family and enjoying time together.
Stressed About: All of the people overwhelm you. Inevitably there is drama and it is just exhausting!  You never seem to know when to leave.
Plan: Take a time out.  Whether it is going for a walk with your spouse, taking a nap in your old room, or playing with your kids take some time for yourself.  Make a plan with your immediate family that when drama starts, you are out of there. Don’t engage, don’t participate just calmly pack up your stuff and leave.

Taking the time with your spouse and yourself to walk through the holiday and strategically avoid pitfalls is priceless!  I can’t guarantee that it will be perfect or that it will be the Normal Rockwell of holidays–but I can guarantee it will be happier!!

I would love to hear from you in the comments:

What are you worried about this holiday season?  How do you see making a plan helping? How do you see it hurting?

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