Have you ever wondered why the “most wonderful time of the year” is also one of the most stressful, and challenging times of the year? The holidays usher in festive decorations, baking, and gatherings…. not to mention shopping and gift giving. Its a hectic time of preparing, and filled with some really big expectations. The silent partner in this season is a stress level that rises and can disable us if we let it. How are you doing with holiday stress?
For many christmas preparations i spent days baking dozens and dozens of cookies, neatly packed in tins for the anticipated thundering heard of people that would visit. And the house looked like the north pole exploded, with lights, and evergreen, pointsettias, and glittering ornaments. Everything had to look fabulous. In fact i can remember a year when there was a tree in almost every room of the house. Everything looked like picture perfect north pole celebration central. But i was wiped out….
And the truth was we did not have thundering herds of people in, we grew fat eating all those cookies, and in the end while the house looked great, we did not need all the detail. We both agreed that we needed to manage the stress and expectations of the holidays. Here are a few ways we have reworked the holidays :
- Simplify decorating: Rather than all the decorations filling the house we keep it much more simple… Some years we dont even put up a tree. But a wreath on the door, a few lights, and much less stress overall.
- Simplify gifts: Gift giving is no longer an epic journey of gathering just the right things for people… we keep it small. Between Steve and i we get something each other has said they wanted. We tend to get that item when its needed, rather than wrapping anything up. This year the gifts we gave each other were necessary and good: Newly rebuilt back porch, new furnace for the house, and a newly rebuilt staircase to the basement. They are practical… necessary things
- Simplify food: Our diet has changed, and we try hard to avoid lots of sweets and bakery, so baking is only one recipe here and there of cookies… and we make gift packs for the neighbors to say merry Christmas. No pressure to bake for days, and eat for weeks/!!! And that goes for the actual meals we prepare too… we cant handle all of the rich food we seldom eat… keeping the menu more healthy, and easy works for us better.
- Simplify expectations: We want to have holiday fun, but keeping entertaining light and easy, simple meals, easy to prepare foods, casual.
- Manage grief: yes, this is a big thing for me. We just passed the 28 year mark of my mom’s death, 2 weeks before christmas. That changed everything about the holiday for me, and by necessity we had to change some of our traditions to minimize the silent visitor of grief from strangling me into a headlock. So we started new traditions, and tread lightly on the things that remind me of days before she passed. If you are battling grief the best thing you can do is start a new tradition that is different than what you have done. Dedicate that new tradition to that
- Plan rest and down time into the formula – not wanting to feel hurried or overwhelmed by having to go and do constantly we have discovered that planned downtime is wonderful. Maybe its an evening of watching an old christmas movie on tv, or snuggled up and reading. This is what recharges our batteries.
So this is how we destress the holidays. How do you balance that out?