The Sensationalism of Holiday Stress — Let’s Opt Out

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The holiday stress headlines are already cropping up. This one in particular caught my eye:

“Along with the joys of the holiday season inevitably comes an extreme amount of stress…”

Inevitably? Really?

It’s true, the holidays are a break from our routine, and are often accompanied by additional financial and social commitments. But do you want your level of stress to be inevitable? Mythologized? Institutionalized by the media?

I’d rather pass.

This year, rather than assume that the holidays will be stressful, frantic, and something to survive, I’m operating under the assumption that they’ll be restful and fun.

Crazy, right? Sorry, every woman’s magazine ever published in November and December. You’re not hooking me with your “cope with the stress” headlines this year, because I’m changing my assumptions. And when I change my assumptions and expectations, my actions change. My experience changes. All from shifting a thought.

My question for you is, if you expected the holidays to be restful and fun, how would that change your assumptions and actions?

Here are some changes that I’ve found:

1. I’m remembering that all those commitments and obligations are actually choices.
In truth, there’s nothing that I truly have to do for the holidays. I could ignore them altogether if I wanted. My level of engagement and participation is entirely my choice.

2. That means I’ll have to be ok with disappointing some people.
Other people might expect things from me, but that doesn’t mean I’m obligated to fulfill their expectation. As long as I clearly communicate what I’m up for and what I’m not, my job is done.

3. I expect to miss out on things.
Secret Santa, food drive, office party. I might not make it to every thing. That’s ok. If anyone other than me is keeping score, they can see #2.

4. I’m planning for rest and fun instead of planning for stress management.
Rather than operating from a stance of avoidance, I’m actively building rest and fun in to my holidays. Better, no? Certainly feels better.

Will you join me in opting out of “inevitable” holiday stress and doing your best to create the holiday experience you prefer?

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Gathering light,

m4s0n501

Author Description

Laura Simms is a career coach who helps purpose-driven people find careers that feels like home at createasfolk.com. Get her free Get Paid for Being You video series, and learn how to connect the dots between you and money.

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12 Responses to “The Sensationalism of Holiday Stress — Let’s Opt Out”

  1. November 12, 2012

    CHRistyna Reply

    I’m in! Tuning my holidays to connection and rest(oration).
    Great article.

  2. November 12, 2012

    Rainy Reply

    I’m so in! We just decided last night that we’re ordering Chinese food for Thanksgiving. Everything in me wants to cry when I think of cooking. Going to honor that “no” and give myself a break!

  3. November 12, 2012

    Tess at Tanglethorne Reply

    This! This! I’ve been following this policy for several years now and it is so much better. It’s hard to give up that feeling that I’m responsible for everyone’s holiday joy, not to mention realizing that the holidays can be just as enjoyable for ME with a saner amount of preparations (2 batches of cookies, not 10; one hour of cooking, not 2 days; a little tree, not halls decked to the max).

  4. November 12, 2012

    Tara@Aquamarine Reply

    This was my favourite part: “Other people might expect things from me, but that doesn’t mean I’m obligated to fulfill their expectation.” I’m going to borrow that and apply it to my whole life.

  5. November 13, 2012

    Megan e evans Reply

    Good timing. It’s great to think consciously about this ahead of time and prepare mind, body, soul for a fun, and lovely, and exciting and restful and joyful Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year for me. Thanks.

  6. […] woman’s magazine ever published in November and December. This year I’m not buying into the sensationalism of holiday stress. Join me and plan your stress […]

  7. November 15, 2012

    Linda Ursin Reply

    If I get to choose, I’m definitely going the fun and relaxed route. That’s what I aim for every year, and it usually works.

  8. November 15, 2012

    Tiffany Reply

    I love this post so much that I plan to share it on Twitter & Facebook. I agree, I think that by expecting the holidays to be stressful, we make them stressful. And I agree with all of you who mentioned the importance of not having unrealistic expectations. The single most important thing that has made the holidays less stressful for me is not working in retail anymore. Between listening to the same 10 Christmas songs over and over (covered by several different artists), the hard-to-please customers, being expected to bend over backwards to every outrageous demand (because that’s what’s expected when your store is known for its customer service), not getting to spend time with my family and friends, and having half the things I sold returned the day after Christmas (which came out of my paycheck!), the whole Thanksgiving through New Year’s period was miserable for me. I am so happy I don’t have to do that anymore.

  9. November 17, 2012

    Steph Reply

    I love this. Out with stress, in with choice, rest, and fun!

    • December 3, 2012

      Carrie Reply

      Exactly what I need right now! Many thanks!..

  10. […] their joy, freedom, and candy canes. Which brings me to an article written a few weeks ago called, The Sensationalism of Holiday Stress– Let’s Opt Out by the brilliant Laura […]

  11. […] we’re at it, whaddya say we all boycott holiday stress this […]

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