I don’t know if it’s just me but as soon as Thanksgiving comes along, I feel I’m riding a holiday wave from now until the end of the year. There’s Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas and New Years. And with those holidays comes more parties, shopping adventures and financial strain. There’s an air of excitement…and STRESS!
In years past, when the holiday season approached in my household, this Type A person (aka: me) felt the stress and anxiety big time. My husband, Alan, is a restaurant manager and his hours get longer (especially in December). We see each other less, have to juggle our schedules, meal plans get derailed and we need to figure out childcare arrangements other than using copious amounts of Dora the Explorer videos and Disney Junior to keep them occupied, in order to get stuff done.
It doesn’t sound like a lot of fun but for some strange reason I really do enjoy the last few months of the year. Sure, it’s busy but there is joy found in seeing family and friends more often, giving thanks and finding ways to show more kindness in this world, the leisurely sips of hot chocolate with whipped cream, helping the kids bring their Halloween costumes to fruition or writing their letters to Santa and the endless stream of Christmas carols everywhere you go.
This year, I want to make a concerted effort to focus more on these pleasures and less on the stress of it all. I want to limit the stress and relish in this wonderful time of the year even more. This year I’ve got an action plan and I hope you’ll join me…
Prioritize! What REALLY needs to get done ? Make a list of all the upcoming events you anticipate from now until the end of the year. What ones do you feel obligated to go to and what ones do you really want to attend? Can you cross off at least one of the obligations from your to-do’s?
Add to that list your day-to-day/week-to-week tasks as well as those holiday tasks for home and work. Again, what has to get done versus what you would like to/or feel should be done? Is there room in the budget to have a cleaner come in to take that burden off your plate? Even if it is just once a month or on the occasion when you’re hosting? Do you really have to bake 10 dozen chocolate chip cookies? Or is there someone else in your circle that enjoys baking more and would do that for you? One year, my friends and I did a cookie exchange which saved us lots of hours in the kitchen and provided a variety of sweets for us to take home and put out on our own tables when guests came over. Can you make extras at mealtimes now so you can freeze and reheat them when it gets super busy? Or, would it serve you better to have your grocery budget go towards buying already prepared meals?
What I’m getting at here is – how do you envision your time spent during the holidays? Using imagery to identify your ultimate holiday season might be the best thing you can do to ward off the stress and figure out what really matters to you.
Be MINDFUL. Check in with yourself throughout the day and feel what is going on in that moment. Do not place judgment on what that is, just notice. Reflect on your prioritized list and what really matters. Is what you are doing aligned with what you want out of the holidays?
Think about practicing the art of mindfulness through Intuitive Eating at parties where the food and spirits are flowing. Consider some of the tips from previous posts and the concept of a food choice being supportive versus non-supportive, instead of looking at your choices as being good or bad. Remember to be kind! Avoid harsh criticism of the choices you make with food, just know what it is that you want and be sure to enjoy every bite. When at the table, pause and think: What am I really hungry for? What does my body crave? As you eat, check in with yourself to know when that craving has been satisfied. Being present in that eating experience will give you a sense of control and keep you positive.
Give yourself the gift of SELF CARE. Remember to take care of priority one – YOU! Make sure you take time, if even just for 15 minutes, to do something entirely for you. A candlelit bath, a leisurely walk, meditate, coffee with a friend, watching a movie. Whatever is going to take you away from the craziness and help you feel more calm, joy and peace.
With the lineup of holidays underway, now seems like a good time to get that action plan together. This is just the beginning! As the rest of the holidays fall upon us, stay tuned for ideas to help you to de-stress a little and enjoy the best of what this time of year offers.
Happy Thanksgiving… and Happy Planning 🙂