This time right after Thanksgiving can feel like the calm before the holiday stress storm—or it can be a chance to set the tone for a warm, love-filled holiday season.
When I feel the pressure of the busy holiday season building, I think about the power of setting a positive intention. After all, even though this time of year is generally regarded as a season of celebration, a quick Google around the idea of “holiday stress” will tell you all you need to know about the emotional, physical and financial toll all that celebrating can take.
The Roman statesman Lucius Annaeus Seneca put the idea of intention in holiday-helpful focus when he said, “A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.”
I doubt the ancient Romans were juggling holiday parties, shopping lists and hosting duties. But the impulse to do something kind for another is as old as human civilization—and the pressure that comes with that territory is just as universal.
Here are three ways to get your holiday season off to a positive start, setting an intention that will guide you through the month with peace and joy.
1. Set Your Intention Out Loud
Take a few minutes to think about the overarching intention you want to set this holiday season. Maybe it’s “Go with the flow.” Or, “Be positive.” Or, “Kindness first.” When you’ve chosen your intention, say it out loud to see how it feels. Then say it out loud again. Say it out loud a lot, like first thing in the morning, while you’re waiting in line at the mall and just before you lie down for sleep. Saying it out loud helps you stay focused on your positive approach, even when minor irritations and distractions pop up.
2. Look for Intention Allies
Whether your intention is to be calm in the midst of stress, to be generous with your time and money or simply to up your cookie-baking game, look around you. Chances are, there are people in your life who are modeling the values you are striving toward. Tell them about your intention and ask if you can consider them positive partners this holiday season.
3. Beware Intention Sabotage
Some people, places and activities are just not going to jive with your intention this December. Make a list of things you think you should minimize contact with, to maximize the number of hours you spend in alignment with your intention. For example, if shopping in crowded stores leaves you feeling depleted and stressed, you might choose to do most of your holiday shopping online this year.
How do you set—and follow—positive intention in your life?