Where I live, the leaves have almost all fallen, and this week for the first time, I noticed that every store I entered was already decked for the holidays. I've also noticed increasing newsletters and online content about creating the perfect holiday meal, the perfect holiday table and holiday frenzy in general. As much as I would like to glide through the holiday season with my zen game face on, I just can't do it.
How to get through the next few weeks with my sanity? Well, there are a few tried and true tricks that I've gotten from experience and research on what the heck other people do. Read on for my tried and true top methods for getting through the next few weeks with at least some semblance of your sanity...and maybe a little bit of joy too.
Do Less, Enjoy More
Quite simply, this means that you should learn to say no. It's so easy to get completely overwhelmed this time of year with volunteer commitments, parties for the kids, parties for the grownups, work and family events, not to mention planning and orchestrating successful holiday celebrations for your own family. It's enough to make my head spin just writing about it here!
It's seriously not the end of the world to say a polite "no" to one or two of these events. You may need a a time out more than you know, and if you are feeling like you don't have a moment to breathe...then make that moment! No one is going to come by and wave a wand and give you a break. You have to do that work yourself.
Go for SIMPLE, not PERFECT
This will be my first year hosting Thanksgiving, and I found myself the other day on Pinterest starting to get defcon 5 levels of anxiety over tablescapes. That's right, tablescapes. It's SO easy to compare ourselves this time of year to others, and feel that everything has to be PERFECT. The just right table, the just right food, the chic and perfect party clothes. Here's the deal....the things that matter are very simple and they are as follows: family, friends, laughter and love. At the end of the day, having a perfect meal or table setting is wonderful if it makes you happy, but these are not things to get in a tizzy about. If you can have a day or a few hours of time spent with those you love...well that's the only thing that matters. SIMPLE joys are what you will remember, not PERFECT.
I've already posted about this, so I won't beat a dead horse, but this is a good one. Want to get out of your own head, and fast? Think about something you can do for others this holiday season. It can mean volunteering, preparing a meal for those in need, playing beautiful music for others' enjoyment, or weeding through your closets for meaningful donations. I also like to play a game when I'm wrapped up in my own stress. I see how many small gestures I can make that will help others - holding doors, smiling, saying thank you. It's amazing how this will help you change your entire mindset.
Yup, you KNEW I had to have this in here, right?! Move that body! Get outside even if it's just for 5 minutes and take a brisk walk. If you can get a sweat on, even better, but do something to get the blood flowing, the heart beating and the endorphins moving. I won't go into all the benefits of exercise here, but it's an easy way to jump start your body and combat feelings of sadness and stress.
Finally, YOU are your outlook. If you wake up every day and keep up with the same "I'm stressed, I'm tired, I'm overwhelmed" script, then that's your life and that's YOU. There are real challenges that we all face this time of year that should not be discounted, but we can take steps to try and change our mindset. When you feel that telltale anxiety coming up, acknowledge it, take a deep breath, and move on. Look for the joy, no matter how small. Look for something positive and latch onto it. If you tell yourself the world is a beautiful place, then it will be! If you cannot get out of a bad mood, go find someone who is positive and makes you happy. That always works for me and I'm willing to be you have at least one person in your life who is consistently positive.
In the end, there ARE steps we can take to try and alleviate stress this holiday season. It should be a time of joy, laughter and love instead of a race to nowhere. Let's all try to take a deep breath, appreciate all the beauty in our lives and really LIVE this holiday season.