Less Stress, More Presence: Why I’m Setting Intentions for the Holidays This Year

Focus on the things that really matter.

By Brandy Joy Smith
setting intentions_ brandy joy smith

When it comes to the holidays, you could say I’m a big fan. I mean, what’s not to love about embracing tradition, entertaining guests, and spending quality time with family? There’s just so much magic to be found in the season, especially if you’re raising children. But the excitement of the most wonderful time of the year can also be accompanied by stress and anxiety. 

Though I’m not one to shy away from a busy schedule, there are so many added engagements, pressures, and demands at this time of year that it can be hard to keep spirits up. And little things that wouldn’t typically set me off can send me over the edge—I know you know what I mean.

If you find it hard to stay present during the holidays, I hear you! But it doesn’t have to be this way. And really, the reason for the season is to spend time creating memories that will last a lifetime with the people you love. So, let’s make this holiday season our most intentional and present one yet. And really, after the stress of the last year and a half, we could all use some help setting intentions for the holidays. So, let’s dig right in. 

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Identify Your Values 

If you’re like me, the holidays are an amazing time to practice gratitude because we’re already thinking about the year ahead and reflecting on the one that’s past. This is the perfect opportunity to forgive yourself for anything you didn’t do and let go of what no longer serves you, while also focusing on the things you’re grateful for. Last year we had to give up a lot of our usual holiday activities, and while that was heartbreaking, we were able to slow down and spend more time at home together connecting as a family, which is something I want to carry forward.

Everyone celebrates the holidays differently, so it’s important to identify what your values are around the holidays. You might find value in practicing kindness by giving back to your community through volunteering at your local food bank. Or maybe you spend more time aligning with your family by writing a family mission statement or setting some goals together for the next year. Whatever it is, commit yourself to it fully. 

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Practice Selective Energy

I find there’s a lot of pressure to create a perfect holiday where every gift looks professionally wrapped, each meal is a Michelin Star feast, and my home is decorated like the cover of a magazine. But the holidays aren’t about perfection to me, they’re about connection. The moment something feels like an obligation, the less I feel like I’m honoring my own energy, needs, and values. 

The most important thing I can do for myself and my family around the holidays is to keep my values top of my mind, then I’m less likely to get distracted by things that don’t matter as much to me. When I remember that life isn’t always perfect and it’s okay if the holidays aren’t either, I’m able to wrap every gift and make each meal with love and work on the DIY décor projects that bring me joy. 

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Check Your Presence 

As a parent, I’m focused on making this time of year memorable for my children by planning special activities, attending social gatherings, and visiting with family. But with so many expectations around the holidays, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It’s impossible to enjoy the moment when I’m constantly focused on what’s next. 

Since I love to plan holiday activities and gatherings in advance, I also like to pencil in some time without any obligations. These are moments where I can put my phone down and soak it all in. This quiet time helps me to slow down and enjoy the things I love to do like holiday baking and spending extra time with my family. It also keeps my priorities in check and helps me to stay present through the month so I can focus on the things that really matter, without the stress!

Even though the holidays can feel busy, distracted, and stressful, I hope you found some tips here to help you create a more intentional holiday season this year. Remember that your holidays are yours. Whatever you choose to make of this season is completely up to you! I want to hear all about how you’ll be spending the holidays, so leave a comment letting me know. Happy intention-setting.