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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Ask A Coach: Is there a way to celebrate the holidays without losing my peace—and sanity?

Oct 21, 2022 06:15AM ● By Diane Martinez

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Is there a way to celebrate the holidays without losing my peace—and sanity? Every year I tell myself I’ll do a better job of managing holiday stress, but every year it’s the same!

Yes, it is possible! Having more enjoyable holidays can be done but requires some conscious reflection and decision-making. First, try to shift your focus from the external world to your inner state. Often during this season, all of our attention is on outer appearances: the way our house is decorated, the extravagance of the gifts we are giving, the parties we host or attend, the traditions we uphold, etc.

Unfortunately, if you try to make everything in the outer world “perfect,” you sacrifice inner peace. The house and tree might look stunning, but inside we are a grumpy, frazzled mess! Let’s flip that situation. Instead, consider beginning with how you want to feel. Peaceful? Lighthearted? Joyful? Does that idea sound naive? It really isn’t, because it is up to each of us to choose what we value and to make decisions that honor those values. Choosing a peaceful, quiet evening at home over making the book club happy by hosting the holiday party again is a real possibility!

Here’s a fun exercise that will bring some clarity: Make a vertical fold on a sheet of paper. On one side, title the list “Holiday Things That Stress Me Out.” On the other side, list “Holiday Things That Make My Heart Happy.” Be very honest with yourself and name all of the activities and put them in whichever category they fit. You might be surprised at which things land in which column, but the exercise will help sort out what merits your precious time and energy. Of course, you probably won’t be able to quit every single thing that is stressful, but dropping even some of those activities will help you feel more in control and more peaceful this holiday season.

Lastly, for a more peaceful holiday season, realize that the perfection that is portrayed in media all around us is carefully curated fantasy. Go within and follow your heart to create a meaningful season that will bless you all year long.

How do I stay motivated to reach my goals? I know what I’d like to achieve but I can’t seem to stick with a plan long enough to actually “get there.”

This is a common problem, and it’s ironic how something we want so badly can be so challenging to stay on track with. Here are a few ideas to consider.

Get in touch with your “why.” Why do you want to achieve that goal? Is your doctor or your partner urging you to do so, or does it come from within you? For example, do you want to improve your health because your doctor is threatening to put you on multiple medications, or do you want to improve your health because you want to hike with your grandchildren or fly fish in the Rockies? Do you want to reduce debt and get your personal finances in order so your financial advisor will get off your back? Or so you can finally take the trip to Australia you’ve been dreaming of? There is no right or wrong answer here—only honesty. When you get clear on why you are working toward a goal, you have the wherewithal to achieve it. The most powerful whys are the ones that come from within us.

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl states, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.’” When motivation to continue to work toward your goal begins to wane—or just flat out disappears—reconnect with your why. Visualizing your grandkids saying, “Slow down, Grandpa, I can’t keep up!” or seeing yourself attending a performance at the Sydney Opera House can be the fuel needed to see your plan through.

Next, if you have been struggling for what feels like a long time without making significant progress toward your goal, it is wise to step back and ask yourself how not achieving your goal is serving you. All of us do what we do for a reason. At some level, our choices serve us, even if not in a particularly healthy way.

In “coach speak,” this is called the “motivational mechanism.” It states that the perceived reward of continuing in the current situation is greater than the reward of moving to a different one. This level of introspection is not easy but very much worthwhile, as a deep understanding can be gained. Get very honest and note how not achieving your goal is serving you.

Finally, break down the steps necessary to reach your goal into small ones that you can do consistently. It might seem like it would be more productive to have grand plans, such as jogging three miles per day or never eating french fries, but huge changes to our current habits are difficult to maintain. It might not be sexy, but in the long run, baby steps are wise. Small steps + consistency = success! ❧

Diane Martinez is a certified holistic life coach based in Sandy Springs. She offers in-person and virtual one-on-one life coaching and small group classes on Zoom. Follow her on Instagram @LifeCoachMartinez and visit

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