Let’s enjoy all the holidays this year and not stress out!
Halloween is over and Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and then the plethora of December holidays will descend upon us. Already the tireless bombardment from the retail industry has begun. For many people this all equals stress. Stress can ruin what should be a joyous occasion.
There are things that can be done to keep that stress at bay.
Check Your Expectations
There is so much hype about the holidays being “the most wonderful time of the year” and all the magic that swirls around it. We build it up so much in our minds that we often get disappointed. Or we put so much work into it that we exhaust ourselves and when it isn’t appreciated the way we imagined we get angry.
There will also be years where loved ones will not be there. It may be distance, it may be an obligation, it may be that they’ve passed on and it is realistic to expect there to be a bit of a void. Don’t try to overcompensate for these feelings. It will just bump up that stress level. Honor your feelings.
Things go wrong, life happens, and everyone doesn’t enjoy the same things that we do. If we are flexible enough to try for ‘good’ and appreciate it when ‘great’ happens, we will be better for it. It is interesting to note that more often the most memorable parts of our life happen through serendipity versus orchestration.
Celebrate One Holiday at a Time
Whichever holidays you celebrate, they come one at a time. Celebrate them one at a time so you can enjoy them. Don’t put out Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving or New Year’s decorations before Hanukkah. If you rush to the next one, you never get to enjoy the current one.
Keep it simple stupid. Keep things streamlined and as easy as possible so you don’t find yourself becoming overwhelmed.
This is going to be different for everyone. Take a look at your family traditions and decide if you are doing something the same way because it has always been done that way or because it has meaning to you and your family. Keep what has meaning, ditch the other stuff, or make up a tradition that serves you better.
Think about where you can streamline the practical stuff:
*At our house, Santa never wrapped the gifts but Mom and Dad did. It’s just a little thing that saved a lot of hassle. Do you have to have a full breakfast and a full dinner for the holidays?
*We host Thanksgiving dinner and whoever is there in the morning gets donuts. It is not nutritious but it keeps from adding more work to our to-do list.
*Do you really have to do Elf on the Shelf (so thankful that this wasn’t even a thing when my kids were little)?
*If you have a large family can everyone pitch in by bringing one thing for dinner so it all isn’t on one person?
*How can you trim or reconfigure to make it easier?Stress-free holiday: Keep what has meaning and ditch the rest. Click To Tweet
These are the holidays and many peoples feelings and expectations are in play. If we are cognizant of that and are gracious in dealing with them, it will make everyone involved feel better and enjoy the holidays more.
*Understand that children will get cranky because there is a lot of overstimulation and many times their schedules are disrupted.
*Be respectful that Grandma doesn’t like certain language used.
*If the host wants you to dress up and you think it’s silly, do it anyway. If you are that host and someone comes more casual, don’t make them feel awkward about it.
*Don’t be a holiday disrupter and for every family that means something different so use your personal interpretation here.
*Don’t bully your family into doing things your way, instead do your best to give everyone something to look forward to.
*When it comes to gift giving, give thoughtfully. Always be grateful and appreciative in receiving. Understand that not everyone has the same means as you do. Never use gifts to make a statement.
*Be a gracious host and a gracious guest. You should never make anyone regret that you were invited or sad that they came.
*Don’t get caught up in semantics. Let’s not interpret every “Happy Holidays” as a war on Christmas, it most likely means that someone is wishing you well for every holiday from Thanksgiving through New Years. And Jesus is NOT the reason for the season. Jesus is the reason for Christmas. The holiday season consists of Thanksgiving (a time of thankfulness and a commemoration of starting in a new country), Hanukkah (celebrates the success and the miracle of the Maccabees liberating the Temple from the Greeks), Kwanza (a cultural heritage celebration), and New Year’s (when we all celebrate another year behind and the possibilities ahead).
When someone wishes you well for any holiday that you do not celebrate, accept that it was with good intentions and joy from their heart. Wish them well in return.
A lot of our stress comes from being unprepared. Make a plan and spread the work out over a longer period of time. What can you make/do ahead? I collect gifts and stocking stuffers all year long so that it is not a huge strain on me or my budget during the holidays.
Be aware of the money you are spending. This causes more stress than anything I know. Do not overspend. You do not need to start the New Year off with more debt and more stress. The people who really love you will not be tying their love to a price tag.
Do not procrastinate. You will only cause your own stress in the end.
It’s OK to Say No
You do not need to accept every invitation that comes your way.
If life has gotten difficult you can cut out some of the usual traditions for just one year and resume it next year (I promise, it will be ok).
It is also ok to admit that you can’t do it all and delegate or ask for help.
While I would like to guarantee that if you did all of the above you would live totally stress-free during the holidays, I can’t. I’m sorry. I wish I could gift that to you.
Things are inevitably going to go awry because we can only control ourselves. The good news is that also means we can control our reaction. So I give you the best advice from my coping toolbox: Take 20 deep breaths and do nothing but concentrate on those 20 deep breaths. This usually works like a charm to help bring me back to where I need to be. I am also a fan of grown-up timeouts.
If those don’t work for you, use what does.
Cheers to You!
I sincerely wish you a stress-free holiday season.
What are your go-to moves to reduce Holiday Stress?