This is a guest post from my new friend Allyson Joy who writes the blog Cup of Joy. Read more about her at the end of the post and please go subscribe to her blog. Share some love with her in the comments and maybe she will come back! 🙂
The holidays. Yes, it’s ALREADY that time of year again. Woohoo!
Christmas music is playing at all times unless my husband is home. He doesn’t appreciate the music until after Thanksgiving. If I don’t start listening in October I can’t get Christmas out of my system by the time December 25th rolls around. I would live at Santa’s workshop if possible, but something tells me this may be wishful thinking.
The holidays seem to evoke excitement and warm, fuzzy feelings. But as Thanksgiving and Christmas draw nearer, the warm, fuzzy feelings quickly turn to stress and headaches.
Every year I hear people talk about how much they love the holidays and in the same breath talk about the stress that surrounds them.
I have been one of them. And I can’t help but ask, “Why?” Sure, there are a few extra items on the “to do” list but aren’t they supposed to be fun? And aren’t fun things supposed to reduce stress?
At the end of each holiday season I hear people say, and I myself have said, how I wish I would have relaxed and savored each moment, especially the ones that didn’t go exactly according to the list. They usually make the best stories later. So, let’s talk through just a few ways to handle some of these stressors and make this the best holiday season to date!
- Begin with the end in mind. Thanks for the lesson, Dad. How do you want to remember this year? How do you want feel during the holidays? I doubt any of us would answer with “stressed, sick, tired, and ready for the season to end.” Yet if we don’t live the next several weeks on purpose there is a high possibility that “stressed, sick, tired, and ready for the season to end” will be our default mode. Look ahead to December 26th and work backwards from there.
- Know your limits. We all have our “thing” around the holidays. Whether it is cooking, decorating, gift giving or party planning, do your thing and do it well. Know where to draw the line; you cannot do it all. Practice the simple phrase, “No, thank you.” And know that “no” is, in fact, a complete sentence, and can be used with a bit more freedom.
- Goodbye, perfectionism. Hello, pleasure. News flash: not everything has to be perfect. We can easily and unnecessarily waste countless hours on perfectionism. At some point, know when to quit working on your project, know when good is good enough. When you keep in mind that done is better than perfect you may just find more pleasure in the task at hand.
- You are not Rachel Ray. Who doesn’t love the holiday feast? But how many of us stress about slaving in the kitchen for five hours only to sit at the table for ten minutes, followed by two hours of clean up? If cooking is your thing, cook away! If not, buy some frozen dishes from SAMs or even…wait for it…order a few meals ahead of time. Yes, I said it. Ordering your holiday meal may be the very choice that alleviates the majority of your stress. You don’t have to be Rachel Ray in the kitchen. Give yourself a break and do what works for your family.
- Shop early. It’s not too late to get a jump on Christmas shopping. Waiting until Christmas Eve to frantically buy all of your presents is so last year. Check out Black Friday sales which are already happening in some stores or Cyber Monday on November 28th. Be careful to know your product to ensure the “sale” is actually a sale. Also consider shopping on off days. It may be worth your time (and sanity) to take a vacation day on a random Tuesday to avoid the crowds.
- Create experiences. Marking off that to-do list doesn’t have to be done alone. Grab a family member or close friend and make some memories! Grab a latte from your favorite coffee house, go shopping, bake some cookies, wrap those presents or get a jump on that holiday meal. Making the to-do list more of an experience will be fun and bless your relationships in the process.
- Get a move on it! For you exercisers, stick with your usual workout routine throughout the holiday season. Your waist line and energy levels will thank you. If you haven’t stepped foot in the gym in months or even years, today is always the best day to start. Burning off some extra calories is a great way to burn off some extra stress. Dig those tennis shoes out of your closet and get moving!
- Stay on the wagon. If you are walking down the sidewalk and step in mud, would you fall to the ground and roll around in it? Of course not! You would shake your foot off and keep going. So why do we roll around in the mud with our health? One poor meal choice does not negate all the other healthy choices. Good eating and sleeping habits can stick around during the holidays. You have worked hard all year to create those habits. Don’t fall off the wagon now.
- Show me the money! Here is the short of holiday spending: set a budget and stick to it. If you don’t have it, don’t spend it. I promise you will have no regrets when January rolls around and you can easily and fully pay that credit card bill. Or better yet, go Dave Ramsey style, pull out cash and spend only that amount. When it’s gone, the spending is done. Hear me on this: you do not have to break the bank (or break into a bank) to have a wonderful holiday season. Know your limits, set a budget and enjoy spending within your means.
- Find your inner child. Think back to your childhood. Did you absolutely love this time of the year? There was a certain whimsy and magic surrounding each day. People seemed a little softer. And a special spirit filled the air. Kids do not spend the holidays frantic and stressed; they savor everything about them. Find that child again and hold on tight.
- Pick your parties. Parties are just the thing to do around the holidays, and oh, how fun they are! But when parties are happening every other day they can quickly become stressful. Here is my advice: Go to some but consider not going to all. If having a packed schedule energizes you and your family (the “and your family” part is key here) then party away! But, you may need to say no to a few things so you can fully say yes to others. And that is okay.
- Remember your why. Ultimately, the rest of these tips will be for not if you do not remember the purpose of Thanksgiving and Christmas. We should spend this time of year being more grateful, enjoying the time with loved ones, and celebrating the birth of the Savior. This life and everything in it would be meaningless without Jesus Christ. Remember this truth and you will be just fine. Because let’s be honest, who could really make it through the holidays without Jesus anyway?
About Allyson: I am a wife, mom, trainer, dietitian, and writer. I love God. I love Jesus. I am empowered by the Holy Spirit. My purpose in Cup of Joy is to name my experiences in black and white, the victories as well as the struggles and everything in between, hoping that you will receive encouragement while we journey together.