I’m dedicating just a few posts this month to dealing with holiday stress, because it seems to be just as much a part of December as holiday lights, Salvation Army Santas, and the background hum of Christmas carols in every store you enter. So far I’ve written about the prevalence of holiday stress and getting through the holidays when you’ve lost — or haven’t yet found — that holiday feeling.
Today I want to write about ways to slow down the holidays before they run you down. The meaning of the winter holidays, whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa generally centers on peace, love, finding love/hope/light in darkness, generosity, and reflection. But a lot of people end up feeling frazzled — even frantic — this time of year, which tends to dampen those deeper, more positive feelings.
A few ideas:
Don’t do it all: In fact, drop the holiday obligation you most despise. Hate writing Christmas cards? Don’t do it. Feel claustrophic in crowded malls? Do all your shopping at local shops and on-line. Cringe at holiday parties? Just don’t go. You probably won’t be missed — especially if you say, “I’ve got another party that night.” In my mind, staying home and reading books with my kids counts as a party. As does watching It’s a Wonderful Life on TV.
Limit the work: This year, I refuse to spend more than an hour a day getting ready for Christmas — with the exception of taking my kids downtown to see the lights and baking cookies. Decorating, shopping, wrapping, packing up boxes for far-flung family — it’s all being done in one hour doses and it’s making me feel really, really sane because it allows me to take care of the rest of my life — that would be work, kids, volunteer stuff, and keeping the house tidy. Those needs don’t stop during the holiday rush.
Refuel: And no, not with booze. Try to do one thing a day that makes you feel grounded, relaxed, and healthy. I’ll post more about that on Friday, but for now, start making your own list of things you could do to help yourself de-compress this week.
And send in your own ideas for handling holiday stress. The more the better!