The holidays are around the corner and there will be plenty to do from getting holiday cards in the mail, buying gifts, attending office parties and cooking special meals. That means you will be giving even more of yourself and time than usual. As efficient as you are at multitasking, you may wonder how and why the holidays have become such a stressful time of year for you. To ensure that you have a less stressful holiday, there is something you can do however—receive!
From an early age, we’re taught about the importance of giving; we learn that a good person gives to others and places the needs of others before one’s own. What we’re not taught is how important it is to learn to receive. Too often, we are reluctant to embrace philosophies and behaviors that put our needs above, or even equal to, those of others for fear of being viewed as selfish. When this happens, the difference between what we give and what we receive becomes too great, and we end up overworked, overstressed and unfulfilled.
During the holidays it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. You can do that by balancing what you give with what you receive. Here are three steps to get you started.
You already know there is so much more to you than being everyone’s helper. Even Cinderella learned this lesson and look at what she received—a fairy godmother, a great dress and a handsome prince! The truth is, if you do not see your time and health as valuable, no one else will either. That won’t change until you ask people to do their share. What you will receive in return is not only much more energy, but also plenty of holiday spirit. Here are a few examples of balancing your giving with receiving:
You cook a holiday meal Your kids set the table
You let your sister borrow the car She puts gas in the car
You buy gifts for the relatives Family members wrap the gifts
You grocery shop Your child puts the groceries away
You wash the dishes Your spouse takes out the garbage
You drive to grandma’s Your son loads up the car
You buy dog food Your daughter walks the dog
When people pay you a compliment, do you downplay what they are saying about you? Or do you thank them? If someone wants to do something for you, do you say something like, “Oh, you don’t need to do that! I can handle it myself!” Many people are uncomfortable accepting compliments and then wonder why people aren’t kinder or don’t help them out more. Receiving something as simple as a compliment is a huge statement about your willingness to receive the good things in life. Even if you are uncomfortable accepting a compliment, kind words or a gift, note that feeling and receive it. But still say, “Thank you.” Here are a few ways to graciously respond:
Thanks for the cookies!
What a thoughtful gift! Thank You!
It’s so nice of you to notice my new dress!
I am grateful for your offer to take the packages to the post office!
How sweet of you to let me know how much you appreciate me!
How lovely of you to acknowledge my hard work!
Thanks for your offer to help me prepare the meal!
3. Count Your Blessings
To be grateful is to be receptive to life’s givingness, life’s abundance. Gratitude is a state of mind, a way of seeing life, of noticing and relating to life. There are those who have an overall attitude of gratitude. Conversely, some people are rarely grateful—even when people bend over backward to give to them. Appreciation and gratitude come from inside a person as a way of looking at life, as a way of being in life. It is completely independent of external circumstances. Start a journal where you can record every day at least five things for which you feel grateful. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
I am grateful my son is home for the holidays.
I am grateful my children are happy.
I am grateful that my husband has a job.
I am grateful I have such supportive friends.
I am grateful that my sister is content in her life.
I am grateful I am healthy.
I am grateful my mother is involved in my children’s lives.
The holidays can feel like a marathon. Through all of the season’s peaks and valleys, there are people who help make this time a little brighter and a lot more fun. When you ask others to pitch in and do their fair share, respond graciously to compliments, and regularly count your blessings, you not only strengthen your relationship bonds, you discover that people will give to you as much as you give to them. You create a two-way street, giving sometimes and receiving at other times.
This holiday season make sure you receive as much as you give. You will reduce stress and feel healthier in mind, body and spirit. You can start right now! Close your eyes and imagine you are relaxing at home watching your favorite holiday movie while your spouse makes dinner and your children set the table. As you reflect on the past year and get ready to ring in the New Year, you sigh with contentment. Life is good.
Amanda Owen is the author of “The Power of Receiving: A Revolutionary Approach to Giving Yourself the Life You Want and Deserve” (Tarcher/Penguin). Visit her on line at http://www.ThePowerofReceiving.com