If you are 100 % psyched for the holidays and you can’t wait to enjoy every second, stop reading and have a blast! But if there’s any part of you that isn’t counting the minutes in excited anticipation and loving every minute of your preparations, you may want to keep reading.

There are a lot of people feeling stressed right now, maybe a little grumpy. I know people who dread the holidays. I don’t want you to feel like the holidays are something you have to get through; trust me, it doesn’t have to be this way. You likely have a lot more say in this than you realize.

By paying attention to the choices you make, there are a few simple things you can do to enjoy the holidays a lot more, reigniting the passion you once had for the season, and creating an experience that fills you up with the joy you deserve.

I want you to focus on a few aspects to help you have a truly meaningful holiday season:

The Pace

I think a lot of the grumpiness these days stems from pressure to fit in too much into a short period. If you notice yourself thinking about the next thing you have to get to, worrying because you’re running late, watching the clock, you’re likely not enjoying where you are at the moment.

To manage the frantic pace of the holidays, try stepping back from the day-to-day planning, and get connected with the vision of what you want to create for yourself and loved ones. When you answer that, “I want to us to relax and not feel rushed, really enjoy our gifts” or “I just want to enjoy some great food together,” your answers will guide you to the choices necessary to make those things happen. It will guide your planning, time management, and very important what you REALLY want to say no and yes to.

And this is a hugely important aspect of the holidays. It's ok to say no to a gathering or two, and it's easy to do respectfully by simply saying to your host “We already have an engagement, but really would enjoy spending time with you. Can we make time when our schedules slow down?” (suggest a date).

The What

Is that party that you go to every year, something that still excites you like it once did (assuming it ever did!)? Or do you get that “Oh great, gotta do THAT again” feeling when you open the invitation? That means you’re letting your holidays happen TO you. What if you decided that they are going to happen FROM you? I hope you just said yes when you read that. It’s not that complicated. Just start by paying attention to the choices you make. Ask yourself, “Does this fit with the vision of what I want my holidays to be?”

Gifts! One of the best parts of the holidays. After all, it’s the season of giving, right? I want you to pay attention when it doesn’t feel so good, and consider changing it up. Do you have any gifts you give, year after year, out of obligation? I know some are tough to get out of: bosses, certain relatives. But if you notice yourself feeling irritable or resentful about the time or money spent, ask yourself if that’s what you want for you and for that person. Because the spirit of giving doesn’t feel like that. Decide what you wish your experience to be. Do you want it to feel genuine and loving, or obligatory, maybe even resentful? I know it can be uncomfortable making changes like this. You may have to fight the common joy-draining mantras like “But we’ve always done it that way,” “We have to. It’s expected.”

The key way to feel happier, during the holidays, as in your life, is to figure out what matters to you and make that happen.

The Who

The holidays are filled with people, people who make you laugh, the ones who when you’re with them you know you really care about each other, and the ones you just like being around. And then there are the others: the obligations. Maybe you have coworkers or relatives that get under your skin. I also know there are certain expectations: at work, in families, in communities. So, because I’m all about supporting you, I encourage you to be aware and assertive when it comes to the time you spend with others. You get to choose to be with the ones you enjoy. And not feel guilty when you do.

While I’m on the subject of the who, and this applies to anyone who has guests staying overnight for periods throughout the season, here’s something you may not know. Do you ever have the experience that, even if you were looking forward to being together with your family, that somewhere around Day 3, you start getting on each other’s nerves? To the point where even if you don’t get to see them often and you really love them, you’re not too upset by the fact that they aren’t around all the time. Maybe even looking forward to them leaving? You’re not an awful person. Whenever we share space with people we don’t live with, it inevitably becomes stressful. No matter how much we love them. Here’s the remedy. Set yourselves up for a much-needed break from each other, if it’s not already on the schedule. Plan on Day 2 or 3 to split up the group. Group your guests and plan activities that they’d enjoy, such as a trip to a museum, ice skating, or a movie. Allow the introverts to be alone, read a book, or have just a little quiet time. The effort you spend on creating this stress break will be well worth it, and your guests will enjoy it too.

What I want for you is to accept that although there are many traditions in your family/friend group that you want to honor, changing a few along the way is ok too. If you’re dissatisfied, you may find that someone else may be too, and didn’t know how to make the first move in changing things up.

So if you’re feeling like the holidays are happening to you, and you don’t like what’s happening, take them back! Remember it’s your holiday and you get to choose how to spend it.

Here’s wishing you a joy-FUL holiday season!

Dr. Lee Odescalchi

Author's Bio: 

Lee Odescalchi is a coach and licensed psychologist. She has coached and counseled clients, just like you, looking for more fulfilling lives. Her unique approach uses the most effective methods of personal development and performance strategies. She does this while addressing issues from the past that have led to self-limiting beliefs that get in the way of your success. Lee also empowers people to “get out of their own way” and maximize their strengths so they can produce extraordinary results… in any area of their life.