From Stressful To Sacred: Restore Your Holiday Comfort & Joy

December 1, 2019 | by christina katz

Joy to your family; the holidays have come! Joy is an emotion of great delight caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying, keen pleasure and elation. Comfort means to soothe, console, reassure, and bring cheer. Holiday means holy day. If you have not felt joyful in quite some time, putting personal pleasure back into the center of your family's holidays will quickly increase good cheer and put a holy feeling back in your days. Once you do, everyone in your family will feel the holiday spirit bubbling up from within and spilling over into the lives of others.

Prioritize joy. The key to happy holidays is to expand your family's happiness and reduce your family's stress. Often, our favorite things fall off our lists because of too many time commitments. Take a moment now, close your eyes, and think about your happiest holiday moments as a parent. Which part of the holidays do you enjoy most? Prioritizing personal preferences is the quickest way to redirect your course from stressful to sacred. Just say no to what no longer serves your family, and yes to the things you really want to do.

Slow down. There is a Chinese proverb that says, "The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time is today." Many parents make the mistake of setting our daily pace on frantic. Nothing changes overnight. Studies show that continuous stress-driven behavior can lead to an addiction to stress, which causes an unhealthy release of flight-or-flight chemicals in our bodies. The key to resetting this habit is to chill out regularly. Why not meditate, do yoga, or go for a run? Whatever daily activity helps you get off the adrenaline rollercoaster and recover rejuvenating calm is the best choice. 

Banish perfectionism. If the outdoor lights on your home are pitch-perfect, your holiday décor competes with magazine spreads, and you throw the best holiday parties on the block, but you feel sad, burned out, or numb inside, it's time to re-evaluate. You might think, "How I feel is not as important as appearing like the picture-perfect family." But this is upside down and backward. Start valuing how things feel more than how they seem to others. Recalibrate your holiday plans, so they become less about impression management and more about genuine family enjoyment.

Seek comfort. We live in complex times, consider what simple pleasures bring comfort. Relaxing in front of the fire, drinking hot chocolate, and doing nothing may be exactly what your family needs at the end of a busy week. Lighting a candle for world peace on holiday evenings can feel soothing in tumultuous times. Having a moment of silence before a meal allows everyone to practice mindfulness no matter how hectic the time of year. When we put peace at the center of our lives, everything else seems to fall into place.

Become a thriver. Your upbringing may have trained you to be a survivor rather than a thriver. If your parents struggled with addiction, codependency, or mental illness, you might have inherited a belief that a desire for joy is selfish. The only way to change this mentality is to give yourself permission to feel good every day. Once you recognize that you have been in survival mode, you can create new habits and begin naming and claiming everyday joys that set a positive example for your children.

Savor the senses. The holiday season is a time of sensory delights. While the sheer volume of pleasures promoted during the holidays can become overwhelming, just remember that saying yes or no is always up to you. Go through each of the senses with your family. What does everyone love to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel during the holidays? Let each family member have a say in the holiday delights you bring into your home.

Encourage self-reflection. Comparison is the bane of joy's existence. Lusting after what others have and then striving to attain it is never the key to lasting happiness. Your family members cannot achieve wellbeing while competing with others. Turn off electronic devices regularly during the holiday season and make time to engage in a quiet self-reflection process like journaling, doodling, or vision board making. Choices that spring from within are more likely to lead to personal satisfaction than those resulting from constant competition.

Enjoy your family. Parenting is a joy in and of itself at any time of year and especially during the holidays. Ask any mom or dad whose children have grown up and gone, and they will tell you they wish they had stressed less and relaxed more. No matter what your family situation is right now, you can always become a little more joyful as a family tomorrow simply by making joy a priority today. Paving a path to holiday satisfaction begins now. Remember that happiness is fine, but don't stop there, because joy is even more delightful.

10 Daily Calm Reminders

  1. Say no to whatever does not serve
  2. Ask for help with tasks you have
  3. Meditate for ten minutes daily
  4. Make healthful soups and stews
  5. Write an appreciation list
  6. Sing, dance, or doodle
  7. Practice yoga poses
  8. Give and receive hugs
  9. Take a long bath or shower
  10. Call a supportive friend

Originally printed in the December 2019 issue of Simply Family Magazine

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