Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle. Reclaim your joy.
Are you ready? It’s coming. The holiday season. Phenomenal women everywhere are donning their Wonder Woman capes and gearing up to deck the halls, sing the carols, buy the gifts and bake the birds.
Unfortunately, these same women are also painfully preparing to brace against the demands of the holiday. Despite all the merriment and joy that come with the season, stress and anxiety often accompany it as well.
According to my own study of more than 4,000 professional women:
• Seventy-six percent of college-educated women describe themselves as people pleasers.
• Eighty-nine percent of high-powered women who are leaders in some capacity reveal that they have trouble establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries of any type.
• Eighty-four percent of executive-level women feel emotionally depleted and financially constipated, even though they expend vast resources caring for others.
Of course, these feelings are only amplified during the holiday season, for a number of reasons. Social expectations of women project pressure for women to have it all together—plan and cook the holiday meal; buy and wrap all the gifts; create the perfect holiday experience for the kids, husband, parents, etc.; deliver on all your professional obligations despite any allotted time off (and maybe even take on extra work demands because you’re a woman with something to prove); and God forbid you go solo to that office holiday party or family dinner.
The question is: How do we cope?
First, get a plan.
Look at your calendar and determine your days of inspired action and your days of dedicated rest. Do this early in the season. Note that the action days can be designed for you to reach home and entertain. Then let your rest days be all about what makes you feel happy, healthy, wealthy and whole.
Second, get a person.
Find a sister-friend or accountability buddy who understands the stress and anxiety that come with the holiday season, and link up! Be honest with that one special gal pal about what it is you’re really thinking and feeling during these days and share your plan for inspired action and dedicated rest. Encourage her to create one too! Swap plans and highlight days during which you’ll check in to ask if the action happened and the rest took place.
Third, get some peace.
With all of our adulting amplified during the holiday season, we often don’t know how to be happy. Or if we do know, we’re just putting other people’s happiness above our own. You may not feel comfortable in the space of peace and contentment. “Getting some peace” is all about including mindfulness practices into your daily life and being fully present in those moments until you move from tolerance, to acceptance, to abundance in the right here and right now truth of your beautiful life.
Here’s a start: When you feel stressed, simply be still, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “What if everything is actually working out perfectly?” Reclaim the holiday season as your own today. Make sure you’re not just biding your time to make it through the month, but you, too, are sharing in all the cheer. And if you’ve mastered all the stress of the busiest time of the year, then you’re already set to take on 2019 with a sharp new focus.
–Jeanine Staples, Ph.D. is a professor of literacy and language, African American studies, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Penn State. She is also the founder of the Supreme Love Project, an emotional-justice initiative that coaches women in 12 nations proven methods that help them heal the terrors in their soul and launch revolutions in their lives. Email support@ jeaninestaples.com for more information.