Meeting Your Needs During the Holidays

Posted November 26, 2012 by Monica O'Connell in Life After Five

I wanted to stick with the holiday theme this week (like last week) as it seems you’re supposed to be jazzed up by the holidays. But, in fact, they can be stressful. It’s a great opportunity for us to get caught up in other people’s expectations or our perception of other people’s expectations. This is certainly increased when we add a significant other, their families, and everyone else’s hopes and expectations for the holiday season.  Some of my clients describe after-the-fact laughable moments of stress. These include frantically searching out Christmas gifts perfect for everyone, and that one person who left their car running in the mall parking lot for three hours. Other stressors come from blending expectations: You may come from a small family who goes on nature hikes and sips tea quietly, but you may need to spend hours with a big, fat, Greek holiday party.

Take this time to evaluate YOUR values for the holiday season, no matter what you celebrate. For everyone this looks different.  Some value examples include:


-Community   -Connection

-Spirit   -Gratitude

-Adventure  -Helpfulness

-Hospitality   -Activeness

-Spontaneaty   -Giving

-Generosity   -Mindfullness

-Introspection   -Grace

-Intimacy   -Laughter

-Hopefulnes   -Optimism


There’s bunches more — shoot me an email if you’d like the longer list I used.

Pick your top three favorite values, the ones that mean the most to you. Got ‘em? If you have a partner, grab them and have them choose their top three. Use the values to help you choose your holiday activities.

If hospitality is my number one, I might be on the lookout for ways to have my loved ones over. If mindfulness tops my list, I may not achieve that at a party, but I may commit to 30 minutes of meditation a day, or engage in gratitude practice before I head out for the night. If I want to drag a significant other to my family’s annual double black diamond skiing adventure and his or her top value isn’t adventure, we might brainstorm ways to have his holiday adventure met before/after/during the big family ski trip.

The more you lean into your values and adjust your holiday schedule accordingly, the more satisfied you’ll feel. You probably can’t change the 30-year-old family tradition on New Year’s Day, but you can add in something before/after/during that makes your heart happy.


What are your top 3 values? Let’s talk about how you get your holiday needs met.

About the Author

Monica O'Connell

Monica O’Connell is a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In her practice, she spends her career cheering on “Career Girls” as they learn how to get the most out of life. Monica works with arguably some of the most successful, intelligent, inspiring women in the Twin Cities who tackle self-discovery, career success, and what’s getting in the way of their true desires. She shares her favorite moments as those “best described not by words but by the stomach aching, face soreness that comes from spending an entire day laughing with loved ones.”