While we often look forward to the holidays, the positive emotions can sometimes have a sneaky undertone of nervous overwhelm. Sometimes, it isn’t even a sneaky undertone, it is full-on panic.
And yet, this isn’t how we WANT our holidays to feel anymore than we WANT to feel stressed out at work, especially since we chose to go into this type of work.
As I was thinking about what I wanted to share with you for Thanksgiving, it occurred to me that the holidays and work can have a lot of similarities, and these can be difficult.
Let me show you. Both work and holiday gatherings have the following in common.
Lots of people with different opinions
Lots of people who are dedicated to sharing their opinions
Other people have expectations of you
You have expectations of other people
Dealing with uncomfortable situations
A lot of prep work and clean up
The dichotomy of being satisfied and happy while overwhelmed and stressed.
So what do we do about it? Where is the strategy I promised you?
Here it is. Try it, I think you will be surprised.
Step 1: Make a list of all the people you will be involved with today (or for the holiday)..
Step 2: Next to their name, write down something that you are grateful for about them. (Yup, even the annoying ones…ESPECIALLY the annoying ones.)
That’s it. That’s the whole strategy.
But the crazy thing is that it works.
Full disclosure, the first time I did this there were a few people I got seriously stuck on. I was making the list in anticipation of a large gathering I was hosting and I was in a particularly tough place emotionally. I couldn’t seem to get out of my funk despite the fact that in under an hour I was going to have 30 people in the house.
So I made the list. Some people were so easy, I could list multiple things that I loved about them without any effort. But then there were some I really struggled with, all the negative things about them were obvious but sat with it until I could find 1 thing that I was grateful for. For one person, the best I could come up with is that they were nice to my children. This seems like a small thing but the alternative would have really put me over the edge.
And by the time I was done with the list, I felt much better.
More importantly, when the time came and they were actually all at my house, I was much less overwhelmed and aggravated.
I actually had a more enjoyable time, I was less triggered…
Just by taking a minute to override my brain's natural proclivity to finding the negative and forcing it to find something not just positive but something I was GRATEFUL for.
Being grateful is an active thing, not passive, and as such, it can be a very effective catalyst for a change in your experience.
Thinking about this today, I realized I had to share this, not only because you can use the same strategy at work but because sometimes we are exhausted by the time we get to the holidays. Sometimes we need help to relax.
It’s ok that the hard work you do makes you tired. It’s ok that sometimes the things that should be a break from work can seem overwhelming in and of themselves.
It doesn’t mean anything has gone wrong.
Just take this simple strategy and try it for Thanksgiving. Allow it to help you reset and truly enjoy the day. Allow it to take away some of the stress that may be carrying over from work.
I am truly thankful for all of you, let that soak in so that it can overflow onto the people around you.
Enjoy your holiday, let the gratitude dissolve the stress.