How do you feel when you think of the approaching holidays? Excited? Charitable? Spiritual? Or do your emotions go the other way toward anxiety, a sense of overload, and even dread?
Here are four effective things you can do to survive—and even thrive—through the holidays: simplify, reprioritize, plan ahead, and be your own Santa Claus.
First, simplify your “To Do” list. Outline everything that usually consumes your time and attention: shopping, cooking, parties, work, sending cards, decorating, and other year-end deadlines. Don’t leave anything out. Now, go over your list with a red pen and re-evaluate. Reschedule non-urgent, time-nabbing activities until after the holidays. Cross out those holiday “shoulds” you no longer enjoy or that cause you undue stress.
For example, perhaps you’ve sent greeting cards for years to a growing list of increasingly distant acquaintances. As you spend precious evenings addressing envelopes, assembly-line style, you may fear that the old-fashioned holiday spirit has faded.
The solution? Shorten your list or stop sending cards entirely. Tell people you are simplifying your holidays to put more spirit into other areas that were being robbed by the time you spent sending cards. You’ll be surprised at how many will congratulate you and may even follow your lead. Of course, if sending cards is important to you, make time to do it in a way that is meaningful for both you and the recipient.
Next, take a look at your remaining holiday “To Do” list and arrange the items by degree of joy they bring you. Focus on the things at the top of your list and simplify the rest. If you love baking, plan to bake ahead, allowing yourself plenty of time. Get out your calendar and mark exactly when everything must happen to ensure a pleasurable, rather than stressful, experience. Approach the activity lovingly and with the awareness that you are honoring the holidays, instead of baking as fast as you can just to get it crossed off your list.
If decorating is further down on your remaining “Joy” list, simplify it. Make tree buying a family outing, but don’t push yourself to handcraft every ornament. Discard the unrealistic message that you must create the picture-perfect holiday, only to miss the true spirit of the season.
Finally, be your own Santa Claus. Don’t cram your calendar full. Leave gaps to appreciate the here and now. Give yourself the stress-free, joyful holiday you deserve. Only when you truly embody inner peace and love will you radiate it freely to others. What better gift can you give yourself and your loved ones?