I love the holidays. I do. Really. No, I’m not kidding.
My holidays are admittedly a lot less stressful now that my kids are out of school and on their own. The stress of shopping for them, their friends & teachers (and keeping things hidden and don’t even get me started on St. Nick’s Day!), plus school commitments, holiday parties & events in addition to our own family obligations and my work ones was, well, often a lot! I’m not telling those of you living those days anything you don’t know, but it can be managed.
Here are 7 tips for managing stress and anxiety this time of year:
- Do just a few things well. There is a lot of stress this time of year to make it “the most wonderful time of year.” For example:
- I love to decorate for the holidays and my dining room is my favorite spot to decorate though I do spread it around the house. However, I do *very* little outside. I have multiple wreaths and a few things that hang in pre-placed hanging spots, but other than those, no. If it isn’t your thing, just do one room, or your tree, or the top of the toilet tank and feel really good about it!
- What about holiday cards? Do you like to sit down and send them or do you do so out of obligation. If it is obligation, borrow my rule for Christmas cards. It is my same rule as invitations for major family events – if I have neither seen nor spoken (even electronically) to you in the last 15 months (last year’s card not included) – no card for you! I mean really? The time, the cost, the stress, the point?? Just no.
- Do you bake & decorate cookies with your kids? Cool! If you are stressing about not having time to make them and you haven’t discovered pre-made dough then I have a Christmas miracle for you!! All kids care about is cutting out and decorating them anyway. Save the hour for those cards you feel obligated to send to Great Aunt what’s-her-name who used to be married to Mom’s Uncle Cliff!
- Attending parties that stress you and you attend because you are obligated. I’m not talking about extended family get-togethers which is a whole Oprah having coffee with Dr. Phil episode! I mean that party a certain someone “hosts” every year and everyone seems to go to. The one that requires you to dress in some unusual fashion, bring a sports related gift to swap, bake 6 dozen cookies to exchange, and bring a bottle of wine and homemade appetizer? That one where you have a crick in your neck before you go, get a monster headache while you are there and snap at your spouse on the way home? Yup, that one. Just.say.no. Along with any other party that isn’t actually fun, they are supposed to be FUN (caveat inserted about extended family …)
- We all want to give back and express both our gratitude as well as our Christmas spirit, we post about it here often. BUT — Don’t over-commit. Commit to ONE *extra* activity. Find one thing during the holidays that you are passionate about and touches your heart. Otherwise, you will end up resentful not grateful!
- Don’t make a major change in your life right now. If it was something that bothered you before, chances are it is driving you to distraction right now. Don’t get a buzz or pixie cut. Don’t remodel the kitchen or suddenly quit your job. Make sure whatever big thing you might do now is because the timing is right for that change, not because you feel like things are out of control. If it is a good idea, it will still be a good idea in 16 days.
- Get some “You” time. The grocery store or gift shopping doesn’t count. Find a place where you have no obligation to get something done, all by yourself for at least an hour. (Unless that some place is the gym … see next item!)
- Exercise and sleep. Yes. You must do both. Running around like a crazy person getting things done is *not* exercise. At least 20 minutes 3 times a week do something to work out that stress. Sleep, this is number two on the list (after exercise) that gets sacrificed this time of year. Don’t do it! You must sleep. The laundry to be folded and dishes to be done will be there in the morning (the cleaning elves went on holiday in 1966 and have never returned, trust me, it will be there) – but that is okay! No one will become ill because the towels didn’t get folded and put away or the last 5 dishes washed. Sleep and exercise are CRUCIAL.
- Try to turn a sad moment into a warm memory. It is very easy this time of year to think about those are no longer with us and become overwhelmed with missing them. Death, divorce, relocation, or just one of those things. No matter how this is affecting you this year, try to pull out a memory and sit warmly with it for a few moments. Remembering something happy and moving forward is the best way to stop feeling sad.
This time of year (especially the next 8 days) can be over-the-top stressful, but if you take a breath and limit yourself while taking care of yourself, you CAN enjoy the holidays. Really.
I’d love to hear any tips you have for managing stress and life this time of year!