Holiday Cheer or Holiday Fear?

A few tips on destressing this holiday season

A few tips on destressing this holiday season

The feelings leading up to the holidays are often a combination of excitement, wonder, anticipation…and sometimes a sprinkling of stress, agony, and disappointment. Let’s just put it all out there on the table: The holidays aren’t always sunshine and rainbows and, for some, can be filled with irritability, anxiety, chaos, and depression.

The key to eliminating those feelings is not in this article, sorry to report. However, please keep reading for ways to help you take back control, stay present, and feel a little more balance this season. Cue the champagne pop!

Plan Ahead
A good, old-fashioned list can go a long way and it can be satisfying to cross things off. Organize your holiday to-dos by category so you can make as few trips to the store and supermarket as possible.

While you’re planning, also plan to make a dedicated space in your house for wrapping/gifts. Ideally, all your tape, paper, tags, and ribbon will fit in a plastic bin that you can pull out and place in its temporary home for the season.

Financial Woes
Especially during the holidays, money can feel tight across the board. Set spending limits with your office, family, and friends, and stick to them. Send a Christmas email newsletter instead of cards plus all that postage. Draw names with the little ones in your family so each child gets one gift from another child. Do the same with adults. Set a price max and get the person you drew something they really want.

The Power of No
“Just say no,” should be applied and accepted much more widely than it is. Guess what? When someone invites you to a party that you know is going to overcrowd your weekend, require the cost of a babysitter, Uber, and hostess gift and, quite frankly, you’re just not feeling it…there is only one response. “No, thank you.” You don’t owe anyone an explanation and you don’t need to make up an excuse. That’s it. RSVP with regrets and move on.

Quite often we are paying for convenience when it comes to certain goods and services, right? There is no better time like the holiday season to splurge on conveniences. Get groceries delivered and tip your driver. Stop by Magnolia Foods or Peakland Catering for last-minute treats, ham biscuits, and snacks. Order a cheese board from Purple Door Gourmet Kitchen. Pick up a case of wine from Everyday Sommelier or Reserve and have a gift on hand for last minute holiday visitors. Buy a loaf of cottage cheese dill bread from Montana Plains and make someone (that someone can be you!) very happy.

What Gives
Take the guesswork out of it and support local businesses while making your people smile. Did you draw the name of an avid exerciser when your family drew names for Secret Santa? Buy them a gift card to Iron and Grace, Prana, or James River Yoga and they can use it how and when they want. Foodie friend on your list? Get them a gift card to Grey’s on Fifth or the new Hill City Donuts. Would a clean house make your receiver smile? Hire a local housekeeper to tidy up. Would your people prefer an experience? A gift card to Rise Up Climbing would be well received by everyone. A win all the way around is to donate to a favorite charity in honor of the receiver.

Tips from a Pro
“All of our feelings are generated by what we think,” said Life Coach Kristin Dabney. “It isn’t something happening outside of us that creates our feelings. Rather it is our interpolations, opinions, and thoughts about the situation. For instance, if you were ready by October 1st for the holidays, when you realize it is a week until the holidays, you will most likely feel elated, ready, excited, prepared. However, if you have not begun any holiday prep and you realize it is a week before, you may feel behind, frazzled, pressured—in a word ‘overwhelmed.’ The number of days until the holidays is neutral until you have a thought about it.”

Decide in advance how you want to feel this holiday season: Calm, joyful, motivated, hospitable, spiritual, faithful, organized, generous? And choose thoughts that create these feelings.

“Thoughts like, ‘No matter the state of my home I look forward to hosting people this holiday,’ or ‘I plan to give of my time this season and talents instead of giving gifts, so I don’t overextend myself financially,” Dabney expanded.

Write down everything you want or need to do this holiday season. Then, look at the whole list and decide what you can actually remove. Next, what can you delegate on the list? You do not have to do everything on the list. Get creative about how you can accomplish all that you want to accomplish without you doing it all. Finally, assign a time and date on your calendar to everything left on your list. Be realistic about how much time each item will take.

“Then, and here is the biggie, honor what you add to your calendar,” she said.


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