By Lynn Cutts
It seems that stress is often more prevalent than joy during the holidays. These ideas in this article can help you experience anew the joy and meaning of the season while leaving the frustrations behind.
Over the course of the last 2,000 or so years, we've managed to cram our three biggest holidays into the space of about six weeks. We don't spread them out so that we can savor each event. Instead, we choose a time of year in which the weather is likely to be lousy (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), and cram parties, travel, feasts, and loads of stress all into a short period of time. No wonder the holiday season exhausts our pocketbooks, our patience, our diets, our will power, and ourselves.
Please don't get me wrong. I love the holidays. I was (and in some ways, still am) the "queen" of holiday over-doing. Every year I had to outdo the year before: more decorations, more parties, more gifts, more baking, more food, more guests, more chocolate . . . you get the picture.
And then I noticed that the harder I tried to improve the season with all this running around and doing and stuff, the worse it got. It made my entire family cranky, stressed, and miserable. It didn't take long before we all began to dread the very season we used to love. And then it took a couple of years more before I figured out the problem: the holidays aren't about doing; they're about being. Once I realized that, and changed my focus, we started to enjoy the holidays again.
This is a different slant from the "giving not getting" spiel we hear, or heard, as we were growing up. My old, stressed, frantic holidays were all about giving, giving as much as I could, until there was nothing left for me. "Being vs. doing" goes beyond that. You can still give, give, give, or get, get, get all you want. It's the intention behind the giving and getting (or partying, or traveling, or baking or. . .) that we're looking at here.
So that's what I want to address: setting an intention for the holidays. Simply put, setting an intention is about deciding what it is you really want from something, like a vacation, a dinner party, or even today. Depending upon the situation, you might ask, "What do I want to take away from this?" or "What is the purpose of this?" In our case, "What do I really want to get from this holiday season?"
I don't mean "a red Lamborghini Diablo", or "a new refrigerator," although I wouldn't turn those down. I don't even mean something as practical and essential as ten pounds of chocolate. Nor am I asking you to examine the real meaning of Christmas, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanza, rampant commercialism, or whatever it is you celebrate. Instead, I want you to connect with that deeply personal, being part, and decide what you want from there.
What I'm asking you to do is to reach deep down inside yourself, your heart, soul, or whatever you call that special place, and discover what it is you really want this holiday season to mean for you. So, stop, right now. Close your eyes, and lean back in your chair. What is the first thing that comes up for you?
One way, but by no means the only way, you can look at holiday intentions is to remember back to some of the best times you've ever had. What were the feelings about those times that made them so very special? Are any of those feelings ones you'd like to experience this season? Or is there another, different purpose or feeling you'd like to have?
If you're absolutely drawing a blank, here are some ideas for holiday intentions that might get you started on your own:
• reconnect with (family, friends, the world, the Divine Being...)
• discover the (joy, beauty, wonder...) in (small things, life, myself...)
• let go of (negativity, stress, anger, suffering, hate...)
• honor (my body, my values, others...)
• celebrate (beauty, life, laughter, family,...)
• laugh, love, and live (life, in the moment,...)
So my request of you is that you take some time, this week - today, preferably - and set your intentions for this holiday season. Write them out. Then make several copies of them, and stash them in places where you'll see them frequently throughout the next few weeks. Let them remind you that this season is about joy, love, celebration, and beauty, instead of stress, hurry, and rush. And take some time to just be.
Let the Holidays Be
Though the holiday season is supposed to be a time of celebration and love, it often brings with it stress and anxiety beyond what we experience during the other ten months of the year.
Beat Xmas Stress
How to beat the stress and keep your sanity as a parent.
Parents - Give Gifts That Will Keep On Giving
Many well meaning parents will buy gifts this season for their kids and teens that may be on one of the hot toy lists but lack true play value. Child psychologist, Dr Bob Myers provides tips for parents on holiday gift giving and toy safety.
Management Infocenter in Holisticonline.com
Commonsense recommendations for managing stress.
Copyright 2004 Lynn Cutts
Lynn Cutts, the Muse of Manage Your Muse, is a life coach, writer, and general chocolate lover. Lynn is certified by the Coaches Training Institute, and is a member of the International Coaches Federation. To learn more about Lynn and her coaching, please visit her site at