The holidays are right around the corner, and most women are beginning to feel an additional layer of stress and overwhelm. Along with our normal daily routines, we must entertain, decorate, cook, and shop, all while maintaining a “merry and bright” attitude, which at times is almost impossible.
I speak from personal experience. I have hosted Thanksgiving gatherings and been too tired to enjoy them, and I have prepared elaborate Christmas Eve dinners and missed out on the family fun that was going on all around me. Now, I do things differently, all because of the power of choice.
As you look ahead to the next few weeks, here are a few strategies to keep the peace in your heart and the pep in your step, instead of allowing yourself to become overwhelmed, over-stressed and totally exhausted.
- Remember that you have choices, not obligations. You are in control of each decision you make, with the power to say yes or no. Doing something because you feel you “have to” will cause resentment and anxiety. The energy and joy will be drained right out of you and you will be grumpy like the Grinch. Look at your to-do list, and say no to the things you simply don’t want to do, or you don’t think are really that important. It’s okay! And you will be much happier throughout the season.
- Make a list of all the traditions you think are really important, then ask each member of your family to give you their #1 “must have” for the holidays. Compare their priorities with yours, and say no to the things that don’t matter to anyone else. Choose meaningful family traditions over busy activities.
- When you are presented with an opportunity to attend an event or donate your time and energy to a worthy cause, ask yourself if it will add to your stress level. You have a finite amount of time on your calendar, so don’t fill it with things that will make you resentful and tired. Choose a few activities that bring extra joy and energy to your life, and don’t feel obligated to over-book your calendar. The “fear of missing out” is often the cause of anxiety and exhaustion.
I have learned over the past few years to let go of the elaborate preparations in favor of family time. A few years ago, I announced that we would be eating our Thanksgiving meals on paper plates, in lieu of spending the entire afternoon washing dishes in the kitchen. When I asked my family member for their must-haves for that dinner, I learned that if we have ham and homemade cranberry sauce, most people will be happy. Now, simple is the key.
Last year, we were spending the holiday at our lake house which has a really small oven. Instead of spending the week ahead of Thanksgiving preparing all the sides, I ordered the entire meal from Central Market! We warmed everything in their foil pans, ate on paper plates, and spent most of the day playing games and enjoying the outdoors.
Yes, the magazines are filled with ideas for beautiful centerpieces, yummy decorated cookies, fancy holiday meals and lavishly adorned homes. But this holiday season, choose what is truly important in the big picture of life as you de-stress and experience the true meaning of the season.