The holidays are fast approaching, and hustle and bustle abounds! I went to the post office yesterday morning to mail a package. I tried to time my visit perfectly – just after rush hour and before lunch hour. Despite what I thought was clever planning, I was surprised to see a lineup of over a dozen people waiting to get their holiday shipping done. Luckily, I had a prepaid mailer and really just needed to drop it off. I took one look at the lineup and got out of there and found a mailbox outside!
While the holidays bring a sense of tradition, community, and joy for many people, they can also bring stress and overwhelm. This is a time of year where we tend to rush everywhere, trying to get everything done, meet all of our social obligations and commitments, and try to “survive” the crowds at the malls and stores.
Read on for three great tips for decreasing holiday stress.
Tip # 1: Avoid Over-Committing
Think about your to do list and the list of holiday events and gatherings you have been invited to. Does it seem overwhelming? Remember that it isn’t possible to be everywhere at once, just as it isn’t possible to please everyone. Rather than trying to over-schedule and spend more time rushing between parties and gatherings than you spend enjoying them, prioritize your commitments. If you need to cut back on eating, sleeping, or bathing to make all your commitments, you are doing too much!
Take a deep breath. Ask yourself if it is really possible to complete everything on your to do list and make all the holiday events without driving yourself nuts? If so, good for you! If not, don’t worry, you have permission to prioritize and say no to any items on the list that don’t work for you.
Will writing and sending out dozens of holiday greeting cards take time away from other things you would like to do? Simplify by sending electronic greetings to most people on your list and limit the number of handwritten cards you send out.
Do you have too many places to be and not enough time or energy? Prioritize the list and choose to attend only the three most important (or whatever number works for you). You can’t please everyone and if you are spread too thin trying to make everyone else happy, you will be run ragged and may not be a very jolly guest anyway. Choose the engagements you must go to, and if there is still room or time for more items on your list, choose the ones that will make YOU happy. That way you are bringing your best to each event and allowing yourself to fill up with joy and holiday cheer instead of being drained by over-committing.
Tip # 2: Simplify Shopping
Holiday shopping doesn’t have to mean pushing through the crowds or standing in long slow-moving lines anymore! Many stores have online ordering where you can browse the selection online and have it shipped directly to your home. If you don’t like online ordering, you can browse online and call the store to see if they have it in stock and have the clerk set the item aside for you. You may still have to stand in line to pay for your purchase, but at least you save time pushing through the crowds and avoiding the disappointment of going all that way and the item to be out of stock.
Another great option is to shop at smaller local business (such as Health In Your Hands!), which may carry unique items that you can’t find elsewhere and will have much fewer crowds. Many smaller local businesses also have a special atmosphere that can help make your shopping experience relaxing and enjoyable.
Tip # 3: Make Time for Yourself
Throughout this busy season, don’t forget to set aside time for yourself. Make some time every day to be by yourself. alone. Even if it is only a 5-10 minute reprieve from the festivities, this precious time will help you recharge and prevent overload. Don’t be a hero and push though – escape to the bathroom if you have to. Splash some water on your face, do some deep breathing, and try and re-center yourself. As you breathe in, think calm. As you breathe out, think relax.
If you haven’t already received it, you can also download a copy of our “Meditation for a Meaningful Life” here, which will take you through a deeply empowering process to help you find your centre and learn to manage your personal energy so that the stresses of the outside world won’t affect you in the same way.
Once the holidays are over, take some time to relax and recharge. Take a few extra days off of work if you can and catch up on sleep, read, take a bath, meditate; whatever you need to nurture yourself. The holidays are a time of giving and spreading joy to others… but don’t forget to give time and nourishment to yourself!