OMG – we are really into December. How is your to-do list? Not to mention your to-get, to-go, to-see, to invite lists. Many people try to accomplish way too much when planning for the Christmas/Holiday season.
The good news is you can take control and minimize your holiday stress with these 6 tips:
Set the Stage – consider your entire schedule over the next 3- 5 weeks. Use a ‘whole month’ calendar. Fill in your work hours, shopping hours, ‘must attend’ events and self-care breaks. Be realistic, do not go to everything. Prioritize ‘Is this important to me, my partner and/or family?’ Note: your children’s concerts are a ‘must attend’; Christmas family dinner is a ‘must attend’; driving an hour to visit Aunt Mary & Uncle Joe one week before Christmas may not be. Call and say you will visit in January when life isn’t so hectic. Your aunt & uncle will appreciate the call and look forward to your relaxed visit in the New Year.
Pay Yourself First with the gift of time. Carve out at least 15 minutes a day just for you, a self-care break. Slow down and breathe: enjoy a coffee by yourself, listen to music, soak a little longer in the bath, meditate. Figure it out, take 15 minutes to reset ‘you’ each day.
Reduce, Reduce, Reduce. Decide on a budget for holiday spending : gifts, food, decorations. Stick to the budget. Make a list, check it twice. Plan your shopping – fit it into your schedule. Use cash. Did you know that we spend much more when using a credit card.
Do less rather than more. Plan to be more rather than do more. Remember we are ‘human beings’ not ‘human doings’. Many people try to be superhuman during the holidays resulting in angry outbursts, hurt relationships, depressed moods.
Do random acts of kindness. They require no planning as they are activated ‘in the moment’. Hours after the first snow storm in Vancouver, I was walking to my office and passed an elderly woman who was walking ever so slowly down a hilly snowy sidewalk en route to the drugstore. I turned to her and said would you like to take my arm and walk down the hill together. Her face lit up with the biggest smile, she grabbed my arm and in the 3 minutes that we were together, we chatted and laughed. Random acts of kindness give you an immediate boost of positive feelings.
Give the gift of time. As you look over your budget and shopping list, consider the gift of time. Many years ago as a young mother, a wise person told me that Time is spelled L-O-V-E. I have never forgotten that. Rather than looking through stores for the greatest gifts think about making a gift-certificate that says: “This entitles you to a toboggan (snowshoeing, skiing, skating) day with me” ; “This entitles you to one evening of babysitting” “This entitles you to an afternoon of baking with me” “ This entitles you to a Grande coffee and a good long chat with me”.
Take time to reflect and be grateful this holiday season. Reflect on the good that you have done, the changes that you would like to make and the people that you have in your life.
Photo courtesy: Ben Askins