It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
But let me ask you a few questions - does this time of the year fill you with joy and excitement or does this time of year fill you with an overwhelming sense of dread due to the additional stress? Is this additional stress caused by what seems like an endless to do list? If you’re anything like me, you’re already struggling to get everything done during an average week (without the addition of any major events or holidays). Every year, November and December seem to bring on the added pressure of creating the perfect holiday season filled with your family’s favorite traditions and decorations, shopping for and giving the perfect gifts, and preparing to host parties and their guests, traveling to be with loved ones, or just baking those well sought-after holiday treats. It’s a whirlwind month and a half and often you’ll find yourself hustling and bustling about until BOOM! It’s the New Year! You then look back and realize you didn’t have a moment to stop and enjoy the holidays you practically killed yourself to make so perfect. So how do you make it through the holidays with your sanity intact and avoid the New Year’s trip to the asylum? Well I’ve got great news! I’ve got 8 tips to help you survive this year and ensure that you have your best holiday season yet!
You can’t do it all. I know, I know, we all have this idea that we are super heroes and we hold ourselves to these outrageous standards of magazine cover worthy perfection. We are bombarded with social media posts, magazine articles, HGTV shows, and Pinterest pins all which promote an unreachable standard of holiday perfection. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day. There are only so many days before the holidays are here. I highly recommend you take a moment and think about what aspects of the holiday season are most important to you. What are non-negotiable traditions – is it the “can’t miss parties” or family gatherings. Who are the people who are most important to you? What can you can let go? Maybe there’s a party you dread going to, or maybe there’s an activity that you do every year, but when you think about it , it’s not really that important or something you really enjoy. Figure out what your priorities are and focus on those first.
Say WHAAA?!?!? It’s a crazy thought, right? Saying “no” when someone asks for help, invites you to an event, or foregoing a tradition that you’ve done every year can be a difficult thing to do. You don’t want to be rude, you care about these people, and you are expected to be at social events, right? Learning how to say no to things that you don’t enjoy, that you don’t have time for or that spread you entirely too thin can be uncomfortable. It can lead to feelings of guilt. It may even feel a bit selfish. But learning how to say “no” is absolutely vital to your sanity! You can’t be your best self if you are at the end of your rope because you’ve agreed to take on more than time or resources will allow. Focus on your priorities, on the things that will bring you the most joy, and take a deep breath, and let the rest go!
During the crazy rushed holiday season it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. Rushing around trying to tick off things on your To Do list, late nights wrapping presents, finishing up projects, baking holiday goodies, or attending holiday parties can take a toll on your health. Be sure you find time to make your health a priority. By not focusing on your own health, both physical and mental, the holidays can quickly become a disaster when you end up sick or having a mental break down. Focusing on these things will improve your chances of staying happy and healthy.
- Stay Hydrated! Keep a bottle of water with you at all times! Staying hydrated can help curb cravings and keep your immune system strong.
- Get your ZZZ’s. It’s hard to be a superhero if you aren’t well rested. Getting a full night of sleep will keep you healthy, happy, and at your best!
- Maintain a healthy diet. The holidays bring about a never ending supply of decadent treats. Everywhere you turn there is an abundance of food, sweets, and drinks. Maintaining an 80/20 ratio of a healthy to indulgent diet will help get you through the holidays without completely losing control, and you’ll still being able to enjoy all of your favorite holiday flavors. Moderation is the key to staying in line with your goals without restricting yourself to the point where you are likely to be miserable, or possibly lead you to binging.
- Make time for yourself. Whether you indulge in a massage, enjoy a pedicure, soak in the tub with a good book, or bliss out with some yoga - giving yourself some downtime to center yourself is a great way to de-stress.
Sometimes it’s worth it to pay someone else to handle a few things on your to do list! You time is precious and limited so sometimes it’s worth it to pay someone else to handle some of the more tedious things that need to be done which will allow you the time to relax and enjoy your loved ones.
Some great ways to buy back your time include:
- Hiring a housekeeper. Having someone come in and handle all the tiresome house cleaning details will not only ensure that your house is sparkling for the big day or your holiday guests, but will also free up time for you to accomplish all of your other tasks stress free and allow you to enjoy the moment.
- Have your gifts wrapped. Do you hate wrestling with wrapping paper and bows? If this is one holiday task you loathe, pay someone to do it for you! Your gifts will look gorgeous, and you will save yourself a ton of time, headaches, and expletives!
- Use a meal service. There are so many options when it comes to easy meal time solutions these days. Whether you want your meals already prepared (heat and serve) or more along the lines of Hello Fresh or Blue Apron where the ingredients are delivered and simply require about 30 minutes of prep work to have a delicious meal ready for your family, these services can save you the headache of figuring out what to serve and going to the store for all the ingredients. Totally worth it!
- Online shopping. Who doesn’t love online shopping?!? Skip the malls, the stores, the lines, and the post office! Shop online and have your gifts delivered right to your front door or to your loved ones! Most online stores offer gift wrapping and various delivery options so your gift arrives on time and is wrapped perfectly!
Stop! Take a moment to assess how you’re feeling. Are you feeling tense? How is your posture? When was the last time you took a deep, cleansing breath? By checking in with yourself regularly you are able stay connected to how you’re feeling and what your body and mind may need. Are you staying hydrated? Would you benefit from a short walk or some gentle stretching? Are you so busy and focused that you have forgotten to eat? Don’t underestimate the power of deep breathing. A few cleansing breaths throughout your day can help manage stress and tension.
Do you hold yourself to unrealistic standards? Do you fear that if you don’t handle a task or chore on your own that it won’t be done right? Are you a bit of a control freak? It’s ok. You are not alone. It’s all too often that we take on more than we can handle on our own. We can be stubborn and refuse to admit that we need help; even to our friends, significant others, and loved ones. Unfortunately we are mere mortals and we do, in fact, need help sometimes. So don’t be afraid to ask for it. In the past I’ve been guilty of expecting my significant other or children to be mind readers and to know when to step in and help with various chores, errands, or projects without my having to ask for help. This mentality has never worked well in my favor and I have since abandoned this way of thinking. It only leads to frustration and resentment when the other person wouldn’t take action without having to be asked. These days I delegate the tasks that need to be done. I ask nicely and specify exactly how I would like it to be done and when it needs to be completed. Most people are more than happy to help and simply want direction. Take a deep breath, loosen the reins, and allow other people to lend you a hand!
7. Make a List
There is SO much to get done before the big day! Do you have a million ideas swirling through your head? Gifts to be bought, baked goods or dishes to make (groceries needed for those recipes), chores that need to be done, party dates to remember, travel plans to be made…. AHHHH! It can be so overwhelming and things can easily be forgotten or overlooked. Make a list! Make 10 lists! Keep a detailed calendar. Don’t rely on your memory to keep track of everything! Organization is the key to staying sane and focused. Whether you use a productivity app on your phone or you prefer the old paper method of a day planner, sitting down and making lists, prioritizing and scheduling when tasks need to be completed can help to ease anxiety, reduce stress, and frustration!
Do you ever look back at the holidays and realize that you were so rushed and busy that you failed to take the time to enjoy any of it? Do you find you are comparing this year to years past and wish you could recreate those moments? Stop the vicious cycle! Nothing will ever be perfect. There will always be something you could be doing, preparing, cleaning, etc. The past is in the past and we often remember things better than they may have actually been. Stop and breathe, and let it all go. Let go of your expectations, let go of comparisons, let go of unrealistic standards. Focus on the sounds, the smells, the people, and the beauty of THIS moment. Put down the phone, turn off the TV, turn on some holiday music, take it all in and be here now.
The holidays can be crazy and stressful, but they don't have to be. Remember to focus on the people and things that truly matter, let go of your expectations and disconnect from the noise. By doing so you can create a holiday filled with love, joy and priceless memories!