Finding Cherries in a World That Seems Like the Pits: Part 2
In this second part of the series we will explore strategies to handle the stress of living a hectic life:
THAT STRESSFUL LIFE
Life gets so hectic sometimes – especially this time of year (I’m writing this the week before Christmas 2014). The joy in life, whether it be the joy of the holidays or just the joy of everyday life, can be severely dampened by an overwhelming sense of being busy: too many things to get done, too many people making demands, too much traffic on the road, etc. But again, there are some strategies that can help. Here are a couple to try on for size:
~ Take a moment to step back and look at your to-do list. Decide if the things on the list are things that really need to get done right now or if they even need to be done at all. Some of this will be prioritizing based upon your values. For example, I have contact with more friends now than ever before – thank you Facebook! But, I get fewer holiday cards than I did in the past. And truthfully, I just don’t send them out either. I stay in touch on more regular basis AND I just don’t have time to get cards out this time of year because there are other things I have to do, like the Winter Spectacular at my kids’ school and two Brownie Christmas parties, etc. However, it is really important for my friend Leslie to send cards. She’s great at it! She often even hand-makes them and they are beautiful! We both love all of our friends, but she values cards more than I do. In other words, prioritize your to-do list and only actually do those things that you must – go to work, feed the kids… or that have true meaning to you. If you hate to shop, do your shopping online or make charitable donations in your loved-ones names. If you love parties, go to one or two that will be the most fun for you. Everything else, say goodbye to it. You don’t need to do it all!
~ Stay in the moment. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “happiness can be found in every moment.” With this in mind, if you can stay focused on exactly what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, you find that the stress of “everything else” falls away. So while you’re at the Cub Scout holiday party, be there and enjoy the fun the kids are having. Don’t worry about what you’re going to serve for your big family holiday get-together. One thing I’ve found that helps me to stay in the moment is to plan ahead. I use a “success schedule” to keep myself aware not only of what I need to do, but also when I need to do it. A weekly plan with blocked periods of time truly helps me make sure that I get where I need to get when I need to get there, that I work on the things I need to work on when it’s time to work on them, that I have time with my family and that I have time for myself. The “success schedule” allows me to savor each moment as I’m in it.
~ Find the blessings in the little things. I was talking to my friend and client Maria the other day about Christmas and how her kids aren’t acting very grateful during this holiday season. But then she told me a story about how one of her sons is required by his school to write in a journal to his parents every week. Last week he wrote to his mom about how he does really understand that the season is not just about getting presents. He talked about how he loves Christmas because he gets to be with family and that he understands the religious parts of the holiday as well. What really touched me was that he wrote this journal entry as a letter to his mom so that she can understand how he is feeling inside. She said that he would never have said those things out loud to her. What a true holiday blessing that journal entry was! Find the little things that make the holidays (& even just life) special. Try to catch people doing the right thing! And, pay special attention to it when they do :)