As we delve deeper into the Holiday Stress Prevention Toolkit, we arrive at the Bigger Picture Tools, which are about zooming out to see the holiday season not just as a series of events but as an opportunity to create a tapestry of experiences that serve ourselves at this particular time. This set of tools is designed to help us craft a holiday season that feels authentic, fulfilling, and aligned with our values.

Choosing Your Experience: Crafting the Holidays You Want

  • Reflect on what the holidays mean to you and what you want them to look like. This could be a time of tranquility, connection, or celebration—define it for yourself.
  • Think about which traditions bring you joy and which feel like obligations. Keep the former and consider modifying or letting go of the latter.
  • Communicate with your loved ones about your vision for the holidays. Open discussions can lead to new, shared experiences that honor everyone’s wishes.

Choosing your experience means taking ownership of your holiday narrative. It’s about deciding what you want to feel and experience during this time and taking steps to make that a reality. It could mean prioritizing travel to see family, volunteering, or simply carving out time for rest and relaxation.

Letting Go of ‘Shoulds’: Embracing What Feels Right

  • Identify any ‘shoulds’ that are dictating your holiday plans. These might be expectations set by family traditions, societal norms, or even your own internal pressures.
  • Give yourself permission to break free from ‘shoulds.’ If hosting an elaborate dinner isn’t feasible or desirable, opt for a potluck or a casual get-together.
  • Create a list of holiday ‘coulds’ instead. These are potential activities that align with your values and bring you happiness without the weight of obligation.

Letting go of ‘shoulds’ is about releasing the pressure to conform to expectations that don’t serve your well-being. This shift allows for a holiday season that feels more like a choice and less like a chore, opening up the possibility for new traditions that better suit your current life.

Honoring Your Journey Is Healthy

  • Acknowledge that your holiday experience doesn’t have to mirror anyone else’s. Your journey is unique, and honoring that is both healthy and necessary.
  • Be honest about your emotional state with yourself and others. It’s okay if you’re not brimming with holiday spirit—authenticity is more valuable than forced cheerfulness.
  • Remember that honoring your journey means making choices that are right for you, even if they differ from what others expect or what you’ve done in the past.

Being honest about where you are emotionally and what you need from the holiday season is a form of self-respect. It’s a recognition that your journey, with its ups and downs, is valid and worth honoring.

Concluding Encouragement

As we continue through this toolkit series, remember that the Bigger Picture Tools are just one part of a holistic approach to managing holiday stress. They work in concert with the other tools we’ve explored to create a holiday season that is not just low-stress but also profoundly satisfying.

The holidays are a canvas, and you are the artist. Use these tools to paint a season that resonates with your deepest values and brings you the most joy. The next post in our series will revisit and integrate all the tools we’ve covered, helping you to weave them into a cohesive strategy for a low-stress and fulfilling holiday season.

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay


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