The holiday season inspires thoughts of gathering with family and friends around the fire, indulging in delicious food and seasonal drinks. Looking for the right gift for that special someone and imagining their faces when they open it. The scent of holiday baking and taking pride in setting the perfect table – it is, after all, what we should really be thinking about: all the wonderful positive attributes of the holidays. However, the reality is that, although the holidays bring happiness and joy, they can also bring unwanted feelings of stress that can quickly lead to anxiety and depression unless stopped at the source.
With our over-extended schedules and demands, we tend to put all the pressure on ourselves. Even more so during the festive season, as we all try to achieve the “perfect” everything—from home decor, menus, and gifts to simply trying to avoid disappointing anyone, ever.
Here are my 8 tips to help ease into this holiday season while minimizing all the pressures and expectations you may be putting on yourself.
1. Listen to Yourself
What are you able to handle? And be REALISTIC! This is number one above all—you are not going to be good to anyone unless you accept your feelings. Family, friends, and business obligations can put insurmountable pressure on us. Learn to say “no” if you feel it is overwhelming to attend every function. Sometimes you just can’t travel to make that huge family gathering across the country. Guilt gets the better of us during this time of year as we just want to please everyone, but don’t forget to think about you.
2. Organize Your Events
Although you may not know all of the events you are expected to attend, sit down in your quiet place, wherever that may be, and list the invitations you do have. What events are you to host? Have you made plans for that shopping list? Can you prepare some of that baking ahead of time? There will always be unexpected events and situations, so the more prepared you are the better you will be able to handle those surprise occurrences.
3. Stick to Your Fitness/Wellness Goals and Maintain a Balanced Diet
Overindulging is easy this time of year—how can one resist those delicious pies or those seasonal cocktails? The problem is, when we partake in those indulgences, we later feel guilty, depressed, and frustrated with ourselves. Physical activity is key. Plan for a daily walk. More if you can handle it and keep up with your schedule. Perhaps have a healthy snack before that event you know will have plenty of cocktails and a tempting menu. This can prevent you from over-doing it. Of course, try getting enough sleep (which I believe is a luxury) and limiting your sugar intake—which doesn’t just mean sweets. Overall, embrace wellness during this time of year. Stay true to your meditation, if that is part of your routine. Go ahead and light a mildly scented candle in the morning or before you go to bed as you relax reading your favorite book.
4. Prepare Your Wardrobe in Advance
List the events you are attending and pay careful attention to the dress code ahead of time. Plan your outfit, including accessories, shoes, purse, and hair. All of this will prevent last-minute rushing, where those embarrassing faux pas happen. We’ve all been there. But not this year!
5. Plan Your Holiday Budget
This one’s always a challenge because we are inundated with so much and so many options ranging from online spends to retail purchases to seasonal gift parties. Stick to what is realistic. A true friend or family member will be more appreciative of the effort you’ve made rather than the price tag.
6. Consider the “NO” Option
You may not be able to attend every party or business function—or even all the family events. Doing so can leave you feeling exhausted and unhappy which not only shows in your emotions and appearance but leaves you feeling depleted. There are situations where you may not be able to say “no” and that can be frustrating, but not everything is demanding of your attendance. Choose wisely based on your own needs.
7. Designate Daily “Me” Time
Plan for “me” time every day. Even if it is for 15 minutes—do it. And only you know the best time of day to practice this, whether it is first thing in the morning before everyone is up or midday. The end of the day is always a good choice for me, but you are in charge and only you can remain committed to you and being your best self.
8. Make Sure You’re Giving Back
Look to your neighborhood charities where you can volunteer your time or donate food, clothes, and toys. Sometimes your time or you just listening to someone can be the greatest gift of all (and just as rewarding for you).
Remember, the holidays and all the festivities they bring should be something you look forward to, not something you dread. Our personal and professional demands can sometimes get the better of us during these months, but we can choose to minimize the busyness by focusing on what we can and cannot do. This time of year is about gratitude, joy, and coming together. Let’s focus on how we can keep that in mind during all of the chaos.