Heading Into the Holidays, Part I

It’s the most ____________ time of the year!

If the words “stressful”, “exhausting”, “over scheduled” – or something along those lines – came to mind instead of “wonderful”, know that you are not alone. For many people, the holiday season has the ability to throw even the most ordered life into chaos.

On top of your regular life, work, and household responsibilities, add parties, gift exchanges, travel, family obligations, school programs, decorating, etc. Your time is stretched thinner with so many additional demands upon it. The stores are crowded and stressful. Work may be busier than usual (especially if you work in a retail environment, or a business where the end of the calendar year brings additional chores). Depending upon where you live, weather has the potential to greatly impact your plans and your schedule.

It’s no wonder that so many people see the holidays as something to get through, rather than enjoy. Too often, we reach the end of the year exhausted, overwhelmed, and unhappy. The worst part is that we bring a lot of it on ourselves.

It doesn’t have to be that way! Let’s take fifteen minutes, and explore how to get more happy and less humbug out of the holidays.

  • Make a thorough list of all of the extra things that you do around the holidays. Here are some possibilities: cooking, shopping, decorating, traveling, volunteer responsibilities, family events. The point of this exercise is to see where the stress may come from.
  • Be brutally honest with yourself. Which of these bring you genuine pleasure, deepening your enjoyment of the holidays? Which ones drain the life from you? Rank every item on your list on a scale of 1 to 10 from “I’d rather eat nothing but fruitcake for the rest of my life than do that ever again” to “I can’t imagine the holiday season without that”. Be specific – why do you enjoy baking, but hate writing the holiday letter?
  • If it’s a five or below, do you really have to do it? Will anybody notice, or care? Some annual things are treasured traditions; others just become routine because nobody takes the time to evaluate them. The less time you spend on the latter, the more time you have to enjoy the former. IMPORTANT: Make sure that you separate YOUR opinions from those of others. Nobody else will ever find out that you secretly hate making gingerbread men 🙂

Next, we will use this information to make a plan for your best holiday season yet!