Spread Joy, Not Stress

Spread Joy, Not Stress

Nearly every person I’ve spoken to over the last week or so has mentioned to me how much they have on this merry month of December.

Holiday parties. School concerts. Travel planning. Teacher gifts. Card writing. Present shopping. Christmas decorating. Gift wrapping. Work deadlines. Party planning…

It’s no wonder so many feel a little (or lot) frazzled in their race to get it all done!

This time of year has been dubbed the “silly season” for a reason. Yet it doesn’t have to be stressful and exhausting. We make it that way because of how we engage in it.

Given that our emotions are contagious, it’s worth taking a minute to ask yourself whether you are spreading joy to those around you… or just the opposite.

If you’re Christmas ‘to do’ list still running off the page and you’re feeling under the pump to get it all done, perfectly (and fit in those holiday parties in between) I hope one of these ideas will help you keep your inner Bar Humbug from making an appearance.

1. Drop A Few “To Dos” 

Have a look at your ‘to do’ list and pick three things on it that, if you didn’t do them, would have relatively minimal consequences. They may all feel important but they aren’t all pressingly urgent to be done by the end of the year. So discern the vital few from the trivial many; those really ‘must do this’ priorities from the ‘nice to do’ tasks. I will make a bet that many of them either don’t need to get done before year end, or could be dropped altogether with minimal fall out on anyone! In other words, “Do less, better.”

2. Lower The Bar

Yes, you have high standards and don’t want to drop them. You want to give perfect gifts, host a perfect gathering and finish the year with everything perfectly in place. You’re a true professional right? However, sometimes our commitment to doing everything to exacting standards can keep us from just getting things done and create a lot of unnecessary stress that doesn’t serve anyone! Consider that lowering the bar a little may be just what’s needed at times (and not just at Christmas time!) As I wrote in Brave, “Done is better than perfect.” So just get it done. Like this column.

3. Don’t Should On Others

Just as you need to remove a few of the ‘shoulds’ you put on yourself, so too it’s important not to ‘should’ on others. A large part of the frustration people feel over the holiday season is caused by their attachment to what other people ‘should’ be doing.

Sure people may not always act with the thoughtfulness, professionalism, generosity or graciousness that you think they ‘should’, but don’t let their attitude and behavior undermine your own. They have their path to forge, their relationships to manage and they’ll reap the seeds they’ve sown. Focus on who you are being. The rest will take care of itself.

4. Invest In Yourself. Daily.

The more you have on your plate, the more important it is to take time to do whatever will help you spin your plates better – with more playfulness, presence and positivity. So consider, what is one thing you could be doing for yourself every day right now that would keep your stress levels in check, stay focused on those ‘vital few’ and expand your capacity to cope better with all that you have on your plate.

Read something uplifting. Move your body. Still quietly and breath deeply. Write down ten things you’re grateful for. Sure, doing things that nurture you – body, mind and spirit – won’t change what happens in your day, but it will change how you handle it. And it will most definitely impact the spirit you bring to those around you!

As I’ve shared in previous posts, it’s the small things you do often that few may see that create the big results everyone wants. Like handling difficult relatives calmly, managing conflicting commitments coolly, and keeping your humor when everyone else seems to have lost theirs. There is no great gift to bring to those around you!