How To Get Rid Of Stress Next Holiday Season

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“One of the things my mentor has been working with me on this past year is the gift of reflection. We tend to move at such a fast pace that we rarely pause to reflect.

What did I learn? What could I have done differently? What went well?

Sometimes, our greatest insight comes from that pause and reflect.

So, as we wrap up the holiday season I’d love to lead you through an exercise of reflection that changed my life. Will you spend a few minutes pausing and reflecting? I encourage you to grab a notebook as you join me.

As parents, we tend to be hardest on ourselves. We feel guilty for the presents we couldn’t get and we fret about the memories we didn’t make.

Every year I take my kids in the van for a light tour. We give them their Christmas pajamas, make popcorn, and drive around to look at some houses decorated for Christmas. Except this year.

Between my husband’s exams, his work schedule and mine, we just couldn’t find a night that would work. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had this nagging feeling pop up that I let the kids down that I must push away and replace with the following truth.

They had a magical Christmas, even if we missed this one tradition.

Let’s start by celebrating all that you just accomplished. The extra meals, the gifts, the decorating of the tree, all the extras you put into this magical season.  Christmas is a part-time job itself.

So, sit in the feeling for a few minutes of all that you accomplished. Let go of the guilt for things that you didn’t get to do. And when that guilt creeps up on you, be ready with a statement that you can cover it with truth.

Second, were there any lessons or insights that you learned this Christmas season? Is there anything you noticed about your kids or your spouse that you can tuck away for later?

When we were leaving my husband’s family, I observed my daughter being a bit apprehensive about saying goodbye and giving hugs to everyone. She came to me and told me that her doll, Beau, was feeling nervous.

I realized this doll was a good way for her to communicate. While this is not life-altering information, it is something I can tuck away for other social situations since she tends to struggle in large groups.

Take a few minutes to reflect on the last few weeks. Did you learn anything about your kids that you could use in the future? What about yourself? Did you stay calm before family came over?

At what point, did you start to get overwhelmed? Make notes on what some of your triggers were so that next year, you can set up safeguards to avoid those same triggers.

For the last couple of years, we have been away from our family home on Christmas Day. Trying to fit in a good visit with my husband’s side who lives eight hours away and my family, we are often away or traveling on Christmas Day.

This year, I have decided, will be the last. I want the memories of my own kids waking up in their own beds on Christmas morning. I want to host my family at our house.

This year upon reflecting on our Christmas holidays, I realized this season is supposed to be one of slowing down, soaking up the memories and feeling loved and connected.

I want a season of presence rather than perfection. I want my kids to remember mom who spent evenings playing games and making a mess with them in the kitchen. Not a mom just rushing from one family activity to another like a frazzled chicken.

This is the power of reflection. How can we be more intentional with our time? How can we take away the stress of the holidays? It starts now for next year.

Spend a few minutes thinking about what you can do differently. Reflect on what changes are needed for next year.

Give yourself grace as you do this process. I’m so grateful for my extended family and how much work my mother-in-law puts into making Christmas magical for our large family. And I want to be intentional about when we go up to visit his side because I want to make sure it adds to our family holiday season.

When we lean into that tension of the both, we can discover new possibilities for our families. Additionally, give yourself grace too. If there were moments when you showed up as a less than ideal mom, losing patience or being unkind, make a note of those times.

Identifying those triggers is a lot more productive than feeling guilty about how you handled them.

However your holiday season shaped up to be, my prayer is that you found moments of rest, moments of connection, and moments of gratitude for what this year has brought your family.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Erin Bouchard of Arkona, ON. You can follow their journey on Facebook. Join our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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