The holidays are upon us and these winter celebrations with their many traditions can leave us feeling stressed and downright frazzled. With both the end of the year creeping up on us and the endless to do’s that never seem to ease up, it’s a time of year that can stretch our wallets and our sanity. Before this joyous season goes whizzing by, I want you to take a deep breath and think for a minute.
Have you actually been enjoying the cookie exchange? Have you created the memories you truly desire in the midst of all that hustle and bustle? Do you feel true joy?
If you answered “no” to any or all of those questions, I’ve created what I call my “Holiday Helper” to make sure you still have time to create those memories with loved ones that you desperately crave and enjoy the true blessings of the season.
During the chaos of school plays, cocktail parties, and shopping mall sprints, we need a little “extra” love. Before your schedule fills up, pencil in a few personal hours. Putting that “me time” on your schedule — going to see the nutcracker with your mom, going to the spa with your bestie, or making an appointment for a massage — ensures that much-needed downtime won’t be passed over for more-pressing to do’s.
Part of controlling your time has to do with keeping procrastination out of the equation. Stop yourself right here if you usually fly by the seat of your pants, choose to be everything to everyone (insert superwoman cape and lack of sleep) instead of putting your needs first. Planning ahead and time-blocking allows you the space to keep those agreements with yourself and to have a system that includes time for important to-do’s as well as any ”emergencies” that might crop up.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”
I know. You really do want to run around to every store to grab the perfect gift. You want to have floors so clean that you could eat off them all while making the best costume for the school play. Please don’t get caught up in this craziness. Ask for help. Or, if you can, hire someone to help you. Try to make a budget that includes money to pay a service to clean your home, even if it is just for the season. Order those yummy cakes from your favorite local bakery. Your sister who doesn’t cook can still bring part of the dinner. Your kids can help with the wrapping and gift tags. My holiday help secret? I have my mom do all of the holiday shopping. She loves to shop and I do not. It’s a win-win! It is the best thing I have ever done for my sanity.
It seems too obvious to say that you should NOT invite the toxic co-worker or the crazy aunt to your holiday gathering. If you share your space with people that make you feel less than the amazing person you are, it only brings about heartache and regret.
Valuing your time and honoring the agreements with yourself seem so simple in theory. However, how many parties have we gone to or gifts have we bought because we couldn’t say “no” or draw the line after we said, “I am done”? Learn to say the guilt-free no.
Huge changes in your calendar should be reserved for another time. Period. Honor this time by sticking to your routines and the agreements with yourself — especially those routines that promote self-care and that release tension and stress.
For the love of all things crazy, why not send a holiday card and letter on a different holiday? Now, I am not a rocket scientist, but there are no hard-and-fast rules on this. At Thanksgiving, send a card and tell people how thankful you are for them. I personally love when families use a different holiday for their card because I don’t lose it among the mass of 150 others.
Keeping yourself on a budget and planning ahead (to hit all the bargains) will help you so much when it comes to alleviating the financial burden of the holiday season. Taking the time throughout the year to find the perfect gift will save you the stress of last minute shopping. Can we also talk about how expensive this season can be for families? A no-fail budget is the best solution. Don’t have the budget to get gifts for everyone? Talk to your family about backing off the necessity of gifts.
It goes without saying that sleep is vital to our health and well-being. So, when you need it, give your body that much-needed break. What are some of my favorite ways to get a good night’s sleep? Try a calming shower or bath before bed. Enjoy a warm mug of Sleepytime Tea. Put down electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Wear an eye mask. Relax with mindful breathing. And, most importantly, stick to a nighttime routine to tell your body when it’s time to wind down.
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