How To Create Stress Free Holidays

Don’t you love the Holidays? Me too!

This time of year, I always get excited with visions of cozy holiday get togethers with family and friends. I picture me, dressed in the cutest outfits, surrounded by people I love – all of us having a fabulous time. There’s always gorgeous food, fantastic music, sparkly ambiance…you know, like out of a Hallmark movie.

Then of course, there’s reality. Wardrobe malfunctions, burned appetizers, jokes that fall flat and fluorescent overhead lighting.

Know what I mean? But there are still so many gorgeous moments that make it all so good.

In between, it seems like there are so many demands during these couple of months that we get more exhausted than festive. I already know people stressing out about getting the perfect gifts, how much to tip various vendors and service providers, what to feed people with food allergies, which events they are obligated to go to vs. those that they desire to attend, and of course still dealing with everyday busyness of life.

Are you one of them?

Do you find yourself dreading those long lines at the stores, cringing over budgets, screaming at crazy holiday traffic and wondering where you’ll find all the time to do it all?

I get it. I’ve been there.

Fortunately, God gifted me with this supernatural ability to plan and execute, including contingencies and fail safes, so I’ve been able to streamline some of these things over the years. In fact, I’m sharing one of those fool proof plans here.

Today’s topic is a little higher level than just how to make a plan so that you can fit it all in though. It’s about creating a mindset of enjoyment in the season which actually makes everything fall into place perfectly!

Seriously!

One thing I’ve learned from my mentors and can attest to is that when you take a moment to clear your mind and intentionally approach every thing with a mindset of “How can I enjoy this?”, it all just starts to magically flow right.

For example, all those perfect gifts used to stress me out. I mean, even if I figured out what people wanted and could find it, they usually had already bought it for themselves and when they opened my gift…well, it’s not so exciting.

Have you been there too?

So, I shifted toward thinking about the true enjoyment of gifts. The truth is that the giver and the receiver both enjoy it. It brings pleasure to know you got someone something they appreciate and isn’t it a joy to open a gift that you know you will enjoy? So, you can choose to create that joy instead of creating a chore of shopping for an arbitrary gift.

So, as I’m shopping for gifts, I focus more on that vision of joy than the specific item and I often find that just the right idea comes to me. When I’m thinking about my recipient and who they really are, what they really like and not cloud it with what I think they’d like or what I want them to like (ever do that?), the perfect gift jumps out at me.

Another thing this time of year is food and it can be tricky!

Food allergies and intolerances are on the rise and are way more serious than just being a picky eater. Plus, food is such a social and cultural thing that we have an emotional attachment even, don’t we?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic wand for that problem but I can tell you that going back to that mindset of enjoyment really works wonders.

If it’s you who has the food restrictions, this mindset is like a magic wand. Going to events with the intention of having fun and not worrying about the food can bring out the gorgeous elements that you never even noticed before. You can choose to delight in the beauty of the decorations, the festive energy in the music and focusing on your conversations to create closer relationships and be fully engaged in the event instead of what’s mindlessly going in your mouth next.

Also, as the host, it can certainly simplify what food you serve when you deconstruct the menu instead of trying to create an extravagant smorgasbord.

One simple strategy I would recommend is to focus on serving whole foods that don’t require ingredients lists, as much as possible. Having a selection of scrumptious fruit and veggies with dipping sauce on the side empowers your guests to choose what is good for them without fear. Even meat and cheese trays, separate from crackers or breads makes things a little safer. Then, you can focus on enjoying the party and trust that your guests will take care of their own food choices and you’re not exhausted from cooking all day either! Or having to put out a book of ingredients lists – ha ha!

So, those are just a couple examples of the issues I hear about all the time and why if you’re actively choosing to enjoy the people and activities, rather than trying to create an impossible version of perfect, the season can become a truly joyful and fulfilling experience.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t found a cure for road rage in bad holiday traffic yet but try a few deep breaths (try not to hyperventilate though) and maybe sing along to the radio. Let me know if that helps! I know, it helps me.

Please leave a comment below with your thoughts. I always love to hear them and learn from you too!

And if you haven’t already, please CLICK THIS LINK to get your FREE Holiday Guides including a Thanksgiving Meal Planner and Happy Christmas Guide.  It’s a delicious menu, recipes, shortcuts and a timing guide to help you get everything on the table together, easily (stress free!) AND a gift guide and simple tips to amplify the fun, love and gorgeousness of the holidays for you and your loved ones.  Of course, the meal planner is gluten free but I promise your glutenmongers won’t even notice!  My family loves it and I hope yours will too.

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3 Year Sabbatical: Have Sovereignty Over Yourself

Sovereignty tends to be a word associated with politics so it came up in reference to how one shows up in the world. How you take care of yourself, how you act and the boundaries you maintain in social situation.

You know I love a good definition, especially from Merriam-Webster:

Sovereignty:

1 supreme excellence or an example of it

2 a :supreme power especially over a body politic

b :freedom from external control :autonomy

c :controlling influence

And I love powerful questions:

Do you have sovereignty over yourself?

How much do you let other people control you?

How much do you control yourself?

Ages ago, I heard motivational speaker, Gabby Bernstein tell a story about how after years of not being able to control herself with food, drugs and alcohol, she was at a gathering where cupcakes were being served. She took one bite and then asked her friend if she’d like the rest. Her friend asked her why she didn’t finish it and Gabby responded that she loved herself too much. I’m paraphrasing of course, but it’s a concept I’ve heard many health and life coaches talk about – self love and self respect that keeps you from abusing yourself in the name of pleasure.

Basically, the ability to enjoy something to the point of optimal pleasure and then stop before diving head first into overindulgent pain, guilt and disappointment.

Have you ever eaten so much that you were in pain, felt sick and even had to change clothes to accommodate your swollen belly? As the holidays are coming up, I’m sure many people will be doing just that in the name of celebrations. The idea of feasting through the whole season really, leaves millions of Americans feeling guilty and making New Year’s resolutions to go on diets (that last about 48 hours, on average).

And it isn’t just around food.

I know many women who will “treat” themselves to a glass of wine (or 4) every night to wind down. Or go on a shopping trip to cheer up and spend money wastefully.

Although there is pleasure in the first drink, most of them wake up the next day feeling guilt about the multiple glasses, thinking about the calories, the hangover and the blur that was their evening after glass #2 when they could have been accomplishing something else.

Or the shopping hangover, embarrassed by the irresponsible spending, scared of the impending credit card bills, embarrassed to return it all and even hiding the purchases to try and forget.

I know you can relate in some way and I can tell you I’ve been there too. Maybe a therapist could tell you what happened in your childhood to make you want to fill a hole in your soul with all this stuff. Or how society has influenced us all to be a consumer culture and spend all our time on disposable goods.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

I’m here to explore how no matter how or why you’re doing this, you can make a choice to find a better way.

Some of that has to do with taking control of your own decision making and having sovereignty over yourself.

Deciding not to go on the pleasure roller coaster of over eating, over shopping or over buying that takes you on a high and leaves you in pain, suffocating under the weight of what you’ve just done.

It goes beyond just self-control and self-love. It’s a high level of being your own and acting like it.

Think about a queen, in the olden days she would be called a sovereign (maybe still?) and the people of her country honor her, respect her and protect her.

What would your life look like if you treated yourself like your own queen?

Of course, it would come with the responsibility of making up your own rules (laws), creating boundaries and relationships with neighboring nations (like friends and family) and protecting your domain (including your body, mind and soul).

Perhaps you would more carefully consider your behavior, choosing to act with love, compassion, integrity and poise.

You would also take your responsibility seriously and not allow bad behavior to run amok.

On a personal side, I started to think more about having sovereignty over myself and had subtle changes at first.

Just the word itself, invokes a higher level of seriousness and authority, doesn’t it?

I started to create more authoritative boundaries around what thoughts, beliefs and opinions I allowed to be present in my mind – actively filtering what I was receiving from friends, family and media to make sure it didn’t make me crazy.

For example, I keep up on what’s going on in the world but it doesn’t mean I’m going to get into a futile debate on Facebook. Doing that would give too much power to people who aren’t actually engaging in a meaningful way with me, to influence my mind and behavior. So, I set a boundary there.

Effectively, as the queen of my domain, I outlawed useless arguing on social media 🙂

Does that make sense?

Likewise, it filtered into what I choose to participate in, eat or buy (and how much!)

Right now, it’s gearing up for Halloween and I was at a house where they already had bags of candy. Of course, I like candy, who doesn’t? So, I looked at the ingredients to see what might not kill me and chose to have a mini- Snickers. As I was eating it, I went for another – I am not immune to that satisfying pop of sugar on my tongue melding with the creamy nougat and salty peanuts. Because of my decision, a long time ago, to actually taste my food, I totally enjoyed that first one and the second one.

But when I bit into the third one, I noticed that rush wasn’t as high.

I thought about having one more to boost that kick again, but, as the queen of my domain 😉 I realized that the next one would yield less pleasure and it was my responsibilty to receive that gorgeous pleasure I was having and not ruin it with regret, illness and bad manners (greed).

It’s probably human nature to want more and more of that high from the pleasure of taste and texture, but when you are sovereign, there is a higher level of responsibility to realize that eating more, buying more or using more is not going to give you that initial rush anymore and to allow yourself to settle into that pleasure and glide down gracefully, rather than crash and burn under the weight of overindulgence and chaotic behavior.

Now, I’d really love to hear from you! What kind of overindulgence could you decide, as your own Sovereign, to enjoy responsibly? Or what boundaries do you need to create, with authority, to improve your life? Let me know in the comments, please!

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