The holidays are fast approaching. Can you believe this week we will celebrate Thanksgiving?? This can be a very stressful time of the year for so many, including me, but coupled with feeling sad or depressed, this season can be downright overwhelming! Maybe this time of year reminds you of a loved one you lost, or your family and friends are far away and you celebrate the holidays alone. Whatever it is, you are dreading the holidays. To top it all off, the retailers have started their bombardment much earlier this year, a full two weeks before Thanksgiving! They are focused on showing you all of the stuff they think we can’t live without. All I can think about is that it is 32 days until Christmas. Woo-sa! Well this year will be different because I’m going to have a plan. This year I’m going to set some tiny goals to help me get through the holiday season much happier! I thought I would share them with you, maybe it will help you too!
Here are 7 great things you can do to manage the stress of the holidays:
1. Be real with yourself. If you recently lost someone you love or you are unable to be with loved ones, you may find the holidays difficult. Just know that this is normal. You may feel sad due to your grief or have feelings of loneliness. Just because its the holidays doesn’t mean you have to feel happy. Just be real with your feelings and cry if you need to. It can be cathartic. Try not to dwell on all that you have lost, but instead focus on the blessings you have, what you are grateful for. Despite your best efforts, if you find that your feelings of sadness won’t diminish, or if you’re unable to sleep, are irritable, or unable to do daily activities; you may need to seek the help of a doctor or mental health professional.
2. Just say no! If you say yes when you really wanted to say no, you may feel resentful and overwhelmed. Lots of invitations may pour in during the holidays and it isn’t necessary for you to say yes to everything. Friends, family, and colleagues will understand if you can’t make it to every event. Focus on quality instead of quantity. Only say yes to those events that you truly want to attend and will not create stress for you. You’ll feel better knowing that you are not just attending out of obligation, but because you truly want to be there.
3. Make a budget and stick to it! Nothing can create more stress than getting into debt. Before you go gift and food shopping, create a budget. Don’t spend what you don’t have. Know exactly how much money you can comfortably afford to spend and stay within that range. A great financial tools is Mint. I use it all the time and I love it! You can budget, keep track of all expenses, keep track of credit card balances, and even set reminders on when payments are due.
4. Volunteer your time to help others.Nothing makes you forget about your own problems like helping someone else whose problems dwarf yours! You don’t need to have any money to make a difference. Volunteering has the magic of helping you to focus on all that you HAVE, instead of what you lack. Recent statistics show that holiday volunteering is down all across the U.S., so there is a need for those that are willing to give of their time. It also feels great knowing that you’ve helped someone who was truly in need. I still remember going to sing during the holidays at the retirement homes on St. Croix and how much joy it brought to the residents there. One day we could be one of those residents. There are hundreds of organizations that need volunteers during the holidays. VolunteerMatch is a great place to search for an organization that could use your talents and abilities, whether you want to work with the elderly, dogs, children, or families, find your match today!
5. Plan a get-together.I’m from a big family and during the holidays sometimes I miss having a lot of people around me. A great way to remedy that is to have a get-together! A great legacy of my Mother is that she gave me her love of entertaining. A holiday get-together is a great way to bring together some of your favorite people in a festive environment and to do something you love to do anyway. Who couldn’t have fun with some egg nog, fruit cake, and tinsel? (I’m just kidding about the fruit cake.)
Good food + great company + holiday festivities = Lots of FUN!
You will certainly notice an improvement in your outlook. But don’t overdo it, and make sure that the event is manageable and affordable. Your true friends are more interested in spending time with you, than what your house looks like. Just clean up and bring out the decorations! Consider a pot luck, white elephant game, or a price limit on gift giving to minimize spending. Pinterest is full of great ideas! The goal is to focus on the true spirt of the holidays and enjoy spending time with your loved ones.
6. Practice healthy habits.They say that most Americans pack on pounds over the holidays. Most gain about 1-2 lbs., but about 10% gain 5+ lbs. over the holidays. For most of us it is a time of overeating and merriment. But all of this overindulgence can lead to feelings of guilt and stress in the new year. Most making a resolution to lose those unwanted pounds they packed on. This holiday your focus is on prevention! Eat healthy snacks before holiday parties and don’t overdo sweets, holiday treats, or spirits. Get in your 8 hours of shut eye and don’t skip your workouts. Notice all of the empty cardio machine at the gym? Take your pick!
Its also a great time to go for a walk or put that treadmill to use as you are watch a great holiday movie. Yes, its really not a dresser valet, there’s a treadmill under all those clothes! Here are a few of my favorite movies to enjoy while you’re on the treadmill: Best Man Holiday, The Holiday, Four Christmases, The Family Stone, Home Alone, Home for the Holidays, The Preacher’s Wife, and This Christmas.
7. Make some time for yourself. This is probably the most important tip I could give you. Don’t run yourself ragged trying to do too much. Engage in activities that will refresh and recharge you. Even if it is just spending a few minutes alone. Find an activity that reduces stress and clears your mind. You could attend church services (most magical time to go if you haven’t been in a while), indulge in a massage, read a good book, go for walks, or just take regular naps. You will be amazed at how much more you have to give the people in your life when you spend a little time taking care of yourself.
So as you can see if you do any of these 7 things you can have a more enjoyable holiday season. Know that the goal is to ENJOY the season and not to stress out. To summarize; be real with yourself, just say no, stick to your budget, volunteer, spend time with friends and family, practice healthy habits, and make some time for yourself.
If you even do ONE of these, you will be much happier in the new year. I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful Thanksgiving!