Finding Joy During the Holidays

By Mooneen Mourad

Enjoy December and January holiday celebrations and rituals! Many religions and cultures have celebrations, religious services and parties in December and January. There are services, prayers, parties, overeating, decorations, gifts, music and expenses incurred during this annual month-long festival! It is a time of celebration for many of us-join the crowd. The following are some thoughts, suggestions and tips to help you be more productive in your work-and enjoy the holidays. Remember, people are your priority. Have some fun!

1. Manage your expectations. Sometimes that means lowering your standards! Stress is created by the difference between your expectations and reality. Expect to accomplish only a reasonable amount of work and fun by your behavior and actions, for yourself, others you love and the public at large. Be responsible but reasonable.

2. Maximize your time. Plan specific tasks for each day that must be accomplished in your professional life. Make some clear decisions. Do those things that will give you the best rate of return on your time and efforts.

3. Make that priority list now. Then, schedule calls, appointments or tasks accordingly in your planner in ink. After those high priority and very necessary things are in your schedule, forget about them until it's time to act.

4. Plan some annual goals. Schedule the tasks to accomplish these goals after January 2, 1999. Procrastinate with permission. Relegate to the first week in January any tasks that can be put off until then-especially those which cause undue stress now or prohibit you from enjoying this annual holiday time. This time is best used to invest in people. Use January to "jump the gun" on the new year and accomplish what did not get done in December.

5. Put people first. People are the most important things in our lives, everything we do is for or because of people. Remember to put those people first, especially those that are dear to you, those you love deeply. Remember to tell them you love them and show them with actions that reflect that love.

6. Stay in the moment. If you are working, be attentive and deliberate. When you are not working and you are doing a "holiday thing," enjoy it. This is a great time to connect in a relaxed way with those you care about.

7. Assume that some "troubled relationships" will surface. If and when they do, attempt to avoid confrontation when possible, especially in public. Holidays often contribute to negative stress and emotion. This is not always the best time to correct things that have been troublesome for a long time, so tolerate some negative feelings and deal with solutions when time and your energy permits. Promise yourself that you will deal with these issues in a proactive and deliberate manner in the future when the time is appropriate.

8. Be prepared to experience some heavy, sad, depressing or problematic feelings. Expect this as predictable; don't be disappointed or surprised. You do not have to act on these feelings right now unless you choose to.

9. Assume that each day is a gift. This may be the last holiday season you or a loved one may have. How would you like to use this time? Give this some serious thought and choose wisely.

10. Limit the amount of drinking and food intake. This can be a time of poor health decisions. Don't drink and drive. Watch your diet and the amount of food and drink you consume, especially if you are on a special health regime. Try to walk or exercise a little more, even just a half hour a day. Treat your body well.

11. Be creative with gifts and money spent. Discuss this with family members and others and agree on a reasonable amount. Avoid going into debt. Substitute "acts" for buying gifts. For example, take a loved one to lunch, a child to the mall, an elderly neighbor to see the decorations downtown or visit someone you care about.

12. Realize that people show love in very different ways. Some show their love in the following ways: doing favors or acts of service for others; spending quality time with others; communicating verbally, talking and listening with others: giving and receiving gifts with others; or by being physical, holding, hugging, kissing and touching others. Try to match what you do for others based on what they value and then also allow others to give to you. Be gracious.

13. Create a new tradition. Ask family members and significant others for their input. Write out the ideas in detail. Implement one idea in December and save some others to do throughout the year, then write these in everyone's calendar. Some ideas: try reading a holiday story as a family on December 24 at 8:00 p.m., as everyone sits on the floor on blankets with the decorations and fireplace lights setting the mood. Or try an "Every Saturday Morning Bagel Breakfast." You might suggest a Sunday evening story hour or Sunday dinner in the dining room as a family, (with no excuses for absences). Choose one evening monthly to watch a favorite movie with a special carry-out food theme. The main thing to remember is to choose traditions which you will really do, and those that can be easily replicated annually.

14. Celebrate your family holiday on an alternate date. Choose a date that is easy for family members. Some choose a different day or another month completely-in January or June, rather than on Christmas day. This allows them quality time for themselves, the opportunity to buy gifts they wanted but did not receive and the chance to buy them at sale prices! The main thing is that everyone can attend the family celebration. Blended families or those out of town may use two different dates.

15. Enjoy some good music-really beautiful, soothing or enlightened music. Listen to recorded or live concerts.

16. Find quiet time. Use some part of the day to sit quietly and privately to reflect on yourself in any way you choose. Be good to yourself, be kind. This is your life, the only one you have. Love it!

Mooneen Mourad is an educator, trainer and consultant who has received national and local recognition for her work. She is a past director of training for Realty One University. Mooneen has expertise in personal growth issues and in the field of art.

E-mail Mooneen for scheduling a workshop, coaching, and
training or to inquire about purchasing her artwork.


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