It’s the season for giving, which means someone is taking. Many of us trudge through the end of the year a bit weathered and weary with all the commitments of the holidays.
When one of your not-so-close relatives ask, “Do you think you can help me decorate the house?” and you say, “Sure!” do you think, “Argh! I barely have time for my own house,” and then immediately feel bad, because it’s Christmas, after all, and you “should” be more giving?
The best way to avoid holiday burnout and grumpiness is to be intentional about how you plan the rest of the month. Set yourself up for balance by doing the following:
>> Be realistic as to how much time you have. Unrealistic expectations of productivity frustrate us. But we create them for ouselves when we are not clear or realistic about how much time things actually take to complete.
If you don’t know how much time you have, you don’t know how much time you have to give. Realistically, how many hours a week do you have to “give” and still be able to get done what you need to get done?
What were you challenged by last year? Did you say yes when you wanted to say no? Did you value other’s needs over your own? Did you buy gifts for certain people out of “obligation”? Be honest with yourself and don’t beat yourself up for feeling the way you do.
>> Create an ideal vision of the next two weeks. Be realistic about what you can and cannot avoid. What makes you happy? What stresses you out? What do you want to say yes to? What do you want to avoid? What would be ideal for you? Assess what activities will make you happy this holiday season.
>> Determine your highest values. What is most important? Is it being with family? Is it making sure you exercise and get enough sleep? Is it spending less money? Is it shopping with less stress? It’s easy to fall into a trap of valuing ourselves less when confronted with other people’s needs.
From childhood we’re trained to be helpful and to do good for others. Helping others can feel good in our hearts. Yet it is just as important you feel an even exchange of energy with the people with whom you are exchanging time, energy and gifts.
Anytime someone expects you to do something, resentment and exhaustion can follow if it’s not in line with what you value. I often see people begrudgingly doing things for family members that those family members could take care of themselves — either by paying someone to do it for them or doing it for themselves.
These tasks often require an investment of time that you don’t have. When we do things for others they can do for themselves, we deprive them of the opportunity to grow.
>> Make one change. Reconsider what you are presently doing for loved ones and determine whether it is an act of giving that is positive and healthy, or whether it is time to make a change. Consider that sometimes saying “no” more than “yes” could make this the best holiday season ever.
Alice Inoue is the founder of Happiness U. Visit yourhappinessu.com