It seems our lives become busier than ever during the holiday season. We stress over the Christmas parties we’re hosting or invited to frantically shop for last-minute gifts in over-crowded stores, and rush to attend numerous events. According to an American Psychological Association poll, nearly a quarter of Americans say they feel extreme stress when the holidays come around. 69% of people say it’s due to a lack of time, another 69% say it’s a lack of money, and 51% say it’s the pressure to give or get gifts.
Even the media sets us up for disappointment during the holidays. If we don’t find ourselves in the midst of today’s version of Norman Rockwell images of a happy family and friends enjoying the festivities, we have somehow failed in our pursuit of successful living. Yet often there just isn’t enough family to go around. When our children have children of their own and in-laws and extended families, our expectations for a full house on Christmas day fall short.
So what can we do to reduce the stress and actually enjoy this time of year?
We can start by taking a break. Ongoing pressure makes us feel overwhelmed and that makes it impossible to be our best. Simply taking a few minutes for a walk, or a cup of coffee and quiet contemplation can help us reset and jump back into the season. Mayo Clinic also recommends that we:
- Know our spending limit.Set a budget, and stick to it. Never, ever buy gifts that you’ll spend the rest of the year trying to pay off.
- Give something personal.You can show love and caring with any gift that is meaningful and personal. It doesn’t have to cost a lot.
- Get organized.Make lists or use an appointment book to keep track of tasks to do and events to attend.
- Share the tasks.You don’t have to do everything yourself. Spend time with friends and family while you share tasks like decorating, wrapping gifts, and preparing the holiday meal.
- Learn to say no.It’s okay to say “no” to events that aren’t important to you. This will give you more time to say “yes” to events that you do want to attend.
- Be realistic.Try not to put pressure on yourself to create the perfect holiday for your family. Focus instead on the traditions that make holidays special for you.
This time of year, we need to be our best and reach out to those in our lives, and in our communities to create a better world. We can’t do that if we’re overwhelmed or frazzled. The season is about sharing love with one another, and no matter who you have to share yours with, share it with yourself. Be kind to you; give yourself the gift of time and balance and do things that you really love doing throughout the holidays and the new year. It will be the best present you will receive–guaranteed.