The dust has settled from Thanksgiving and we’ve turned our sights on holiday preparations. Lots of football to watch, we’ve got a winner on The Voice, and parts of the country are in a deep freeze.
My question is this: What’s your plan?
Do you have a plan for navigating the holidays this year? Is your calendar already booked? Gifts purchased? Cards sent? Tree decorated? Lights up?
SO MUCH PRESSURE!
What if I told you there is a way to make your holiday experience stress-free? You realize you have control, don’t you?
Here are my 7 Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season:
*Block out time for yourself. Get out your calendar and book time for exercise, rest, and downtime. Your calendar will fill whether you do this or not—might as well make sure you’re taking care of YOU during the holidays, too.
*Say NO to more things. This one’s tough. There’s FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and the people-pleasing side of you conspiring to take away all of your freedom and free time. What’s left? A frazzled, over-booked, cortisol-filled, stressed-out YOU. Certainly not what the holiday season is about. Say no to even some of the good stuff. It’s painful, I know, but a very simple way to take back control of your sanity. Your neighborhood will be just fine without you hosting the cookie exchange this year. There will be plenty of treats at the class holiday party, even if you don’t contribute. Make an appearance at the office party and then get to bed at a decent hour. You deserve it.
*Own your weaknesses. What is your biggest temptation during the holidays? Is it grandma’s homemade caramels? That extra glass (or two of wine) after dinner? All the ways to spend money everywhere you look? Whatever your Achilles heel is, it’s always better to acknowledge it and deal with it before the moment strikes. Allow yourself a bit of what you love (in the spirit of giving to yourself), but start the season with boundaries. For example, only eat caramels after you eat a “clean” dinner, and only eat two max. Or pick out 2-3 upcoming special events and plan ahead that you’ll be drinking more than one glass of wine at those; then keep the wine-drinking to a minimum on all other days. Setting a strict spending budget helps curtail the overspending, or simply avoid the stores that trigger you to buy. Taking a moment to write down your weakness and your strategy to deal with it. And then stick to it!
*Get more sleep! Now I’m asking the impossible, right? Actually, by getting more sleep you’ll be able to accomplish more without compromising your health or sanity. Make it a goal to head to bed 30 minutes earlier each night and the benefits will be felt almost immediately!
*Hydrate. I know, I know. This is on every list I’ve ever made. For a reason! Make it a priority to drink half your weight in ounces of water every day. You will have more energy, stay fuller longer, and your cravings for sweets will be dampened (pun intended). This one is easy to do and will make a big impact.
*Pick one tradition and focus on just that one. It could be as simple as wearing your ugly Christmas sweater to casual Fridays at work. Maybe it’s making the homemade clam chowder for Christmas Eve dinner (that’s what we do in our home). Whatever your family traditions are, pick just one and make it extra special this year. Rather than spreading yourself thin with multiple traditions and task lists, focus on the one thing and really make it shine. If you don’t have any traditions (or don’t like the ones you have), this is your chance to make one of your own!
*Give in secret. The one thing experts agree on regarding stress, depression, and guilt, is that the act of serving others helps alleviate all that negative emotion. The holidays are all about service, and there are endless ways you can brighten the day of others. I’m suggesting doing small acts every day, anonymously. Little things. In secret. Just because. See how quickly your attitude lifts when you appreciate others.
I could go on and on and on. I’m sure there’s something I forgot. The point is this: having a plan and simplifying your life at this busy time of year will go a long way towards a simple, stress-free, and meaningful holiday experience.