Avoiding Holiday Overwhelm: 7 Secrets to Finding Peace for Midlife Women

       By: Jennifer Wright
Posted: 2006-12-11 23:53:08
It's that time of year again, when even the most quiet of lives seem to take on a tinge of the frantic as the holidays approach. We women at midlife are inclined to want to make celebrations perfect for everybody; sadly, we all too often end up neglecting ourselves in the process. Here are a few simple, doable tips to make this holiday season one of peace for you.1. Take the time, as early in the season as possible, to create an image of what it would be like for you to have a more relaxed holiday. What would you be doing less of? What would you be doing more of? We create our outer world from our inner images, so this is a vital step.2. When you have your image, identify the two highest values that you want to underpin your holiday this year. Examples might be love of family, spiritual giving, inner peace, or community. Take the time to consider your values. At midlife, it is common for our values to shift from what they were earlier in our life. Make sure you're not “playing out” old values based on old habits.3. Once you have your values, consider the top 10 things you feel you must do for the holidays. This might be a family dinner, sending greeting cards, helping at a church bazaar, shopping for gifts, attending a work party, or babysitting so that family or friends can take young children holiday shopping. Spend time on this one as well, recalling past years’ experiences and what was most rewarding. This is also a time to take into account our family roles and other roles to consider what we must do. We all have things that are clearly our “obligations” and we also have things that are not. Finally, look at your list and identify which of your values go with items on the list. Do you still want these 10?4. Now consider 5 things that you would love to do if you had the time and energy to do them. These might be activities that you’ve considered, and set aside, in other years. Perhaps it was volunteering for a cause that pulled at your heart strings, making a special gift that really utilized your special creativity, spending time with someone that you keep putting off, or taking a day off to reflect and take care of yourself. Look at your highest values again and identify which are represented in this list. Once this list is complete, and given that these are things you would love to do, how can you make them be counted in your top 10 things to do (from item 3)?5. We all know things come up “unexpectedly” that we might see as “must do” items. This is how we all become overwhelmed during the holidays. What will you do to anchor yourself so that you do not become overwhelmed? One sure way is to remember your values and the image that you have created (in item 1). Ask yourself, “How does this new request or project interface with my own identified values?”6 Don’t forget your own self care, which includes forgiveness for not being perfect. Make a list of 5 self-care actions you can easily do for yourself. Keep this list where you can refer to it as needed. This will include simple things like a walk around the block or mall, a conversation with a good and supportive friend, writing in your journal, taking a bubble bath, listening to your favorite CD, perhaps of holiday music. Remind yourself that self-care encompasses love, acceptance and forgiveness of yourself.7. Remember to live this holiday in the present moment, as much as possible. This year I have lost my sister-in-law and also a good friend. Both were here last Christmas, but they aren’t this year. None of us knew last year that they would not be here this year. Living in the present means being totally in the moment, and living our lives fully. Feel, smell, taste, experience your emotions this year. You will not regret it!Jennifer Wright, “Mid-Life Spirit of Adventure Guide for Women” coaches women globally in over-40 transitions of mid-crisis, pre-retirement, empty nest, career change, and workplace adaptations to find adventure in life overwhelm. Trained as an occupational therapist and later as a life coach, Jenn combines the physical, emotional and spiritual elements in her coaching for women. Featured in TIME magazine’s Female Midlife Crisis 2006 edition, 60 Minutes, she is now waiting a PEOPLE magazine feature.
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