The holiday season brings a great deal of joy and warmth along with it. There’s something extra special about this time of year — but it doesn’t come without challenges. A great deal of added stress is dumped on our plates, and it can be hard to catch our breath. The pressure of finding gifts, rushing around in the hustle and bustle to visit everyone, having people visit you, getting to see relatives you miss and even having to deal with those that aren’t always a joy to be around.
This season really can be enjoyable and heart-warming, even with the stress involved. Walking into this time of year with a great mindset and some helpful reminders gets me through every year… and I’d love to share my tips on how I do this with you.
Remember perfect doesn’t really exist
Your cookies turned out like blobs. Your lights aren’t lighting up. Your kids just made a mess of your clean house moments before the guests are arriving. Surrender your vision of what perfect is and just let it go. The only thing the people in your life care about is being with you. Plus, the crazy stories of the turkey that took 2 hours longer to cook than expected, or the Christmas tree that fell over, or cookies that caught fire become the memories of family time together and the stories that get told over and over.
Don’t feel bad about saying “no.”
You can’t do it all. There’s no reason you need to go to every party and event from now through New Year’s. Decide which ones are most important to attend and politely decline the others. I’ve already started looking at our calendar and finding places we can make adjustments to leave space for what matters. Between school holiday concerts, family events for Girl Guides and curling, tree decorating at home and with both sets of grandparents, and holiday preparations we’ve got lots of special events. Some of our regular appointments have been cancelled and postponed for the month of December.
Remember spreading yourself too thin isn’t good for anyone. And, doing too much makes the time fly by faster. You’ll enjoy the holiday months better if you can stop and enjoy what matters to you.
Stay away from crash diets
We’ve talked about reasonable ways to handle healthy eating during the holidays before. Please don’t decide to starve yourself to compensate for the extra calories you had or are going to have at that holiday party. If you do slip up, forgive yourself and make a point to be more mindful. Don’t punish yourself for any mistakes. Just move forward with better decisions, no punishment involved.
If you want some extra support with finding a balance between healthier foods and holiday treats, join the Fit and Festive Challenge starting on December 3.
Know that asking for help is okay
Let me repeat: you can’t do it all. Let family and friends help out when they offer. They can bring a dish, grab something from the store on their way, or help with the dishes. If you have to go to someone’s party and don’t have the time to make something, grab something pre-made from the store. There comes a time when we all need help and learning how to accept it will be incredibly beneficial for your sanity.
Fit in time for yourself
Women, in particular, spend less than 30 minutes a day on themselves – really do you even get that much time for yourself? Go for a walk, get a limited-edition special-roasted coffee at the corner café and sit there in peace, read a book, take a bath, or make time with your best friend to just have one-on-one time without your kids tagging along. You’ll feel full again, which renews your mind and spirit like nothing else. We can’t give from an empty cup, as the saying goes. And it seems like during the holidays there are more requests for us to give of our time, our energy, and our spirit.
Remember, the holidays are about joy. Find yours within, and you’ll be able to spread more of it around. Consider what makes you feel joyful – looking at Christmas lights, baking, eggnog lattés… If you want to plan some extra time for yourself and what matters most to you, consider making yourself a self-care advent calendar.
Focus on what matters the most to you
It can be easy to get busy with all the things everyone else wants you to do. Maybe like me, big parties and noisy events aren’t your thing. If that’s the case, honour your preferences. Maybe you choose to do some of those events, but be sure to make time for what matters to you. One thing that fills me up during the holiday season and my way of spreading joy is taking time with each of my children individually. We usually choose a recipe to bake or a special gift to prepare. Having the time to be together, without anyone else interrupting is a special time for them, and being able to really listen to each child and see what makes them unique is special for me. Maybe you have different traditions and activities that represent the holidays for you.
What are your favourite ideas for stress-free holiday season? Please share in the comments.