It’s that time of the year again when we start prepping for Thanksgiving and the Holidays. It should be such a wonderful season, but instead it generally comes with a whole list of to-do’s, overspending, over-eating, over-drinking, and the obligatory annual get togethers with family we might not want to be with. All of these ultimately leading to stress and even a feeling of emptiness. This year, before you even start your shopping list, begin with a mental and emotional prep list so you can take on the holidays like a champ!
For a holiday appropriately named Thanksgiving, with a purpose of “giving thanks”, it is rarely honored as it should be. It’s no wonder we’ve lost the appreciation for the day as it has been shortened by early black friday deals and our desire to get a head start on the next holiday. Instead of a whole day dedicated to eating turkey, drinking wine, eating pie, and watching parades and football, we are in a rush to start shopping for Christmas. This inability to appreciate the day and the season, especially when so much time and energy goes into it, undoubtedly is a big cause of exhaustion and burnout.
No doubt it is a stressful time of the year as we take on all of our regular daily chores and multiply it by at least three to squeeze in all the things to make the holidays picture perfect. Take some time before getting caught up in the frenzy and check out some tips on managing the season mentally and emotionally.
1) Before the holiday starts ask yourself what you want to mentally and emotionally get out of this holiday season? What is really important to you? How do you want to feel at the end of the season? We have gone through enough holidays where if we look back there are patterns. Reflect on that. Write down your desires and priorities. Go over your list of gratitudes. Put them somewhere visible so you can see it throughout the season. Basically make a mental map and If you are straying away, ask yourself what you need to do to get back on track.
2) Set realistic expectations. If you have a tendency to be overly optimistic about what you can accomplish and you love to come up with grandiose plans, be aware of that. There is nothing wrong with dreaming big, but put the plans in place to accomplish the dreams. Don’t put it all on your shoulders. Seek out friends and family who share your enthusiasm. If this is not really your issue, but instead you are always getting pulled into everyone else’s plans, learn to graciously say No. It is hard, but sometimes it is necessary.
3) Warding off the negative vibes. We all have those family members who invariably hit a nerve whenever we are around them. That Aunt Mildred who likes to poke around the house and criticize everything she sees OR Uncle Bill who drinks too much and starts talking politics. Prepare yourself mentally by identifying who has a negative affect on you and decide how you are going to handle it in advance. Remember you have the power to control your feelings and how you react. Don’t give that power away by succumbing to the negativity of others.Here are some ideas:
a) There is power in silence and not fueling the fire of the other person.
b) Say something nice in return to a negative comment. This often stumps the person criticizing and silences them.
4) Stick to a budget this holiday season. The average American goes into more than $1,000 in debt during the holidays. Think about what you can afford in advance and make a list of what gifts you will purchase for everyone on your list in advance, and stick to it. Too often we get swept away by all the good deals that we have no idea what we are spending. We just spend carelessly and think we are saving money which can leave us feeling horrible when the credit card bills come along in January.
a) Come up with a plan and look for the deals, but stick to your purchase plan.
b) Get creative. With so many ideas on Pinterest and other online outlets, you can make something special.
5) Stay connected. It can be a lonely time of the year as the hustle and bustle gets out of hand and you are feeling out of it. Sometimes it’s because it is too much to handle and other times it is the opposite. Maybe the kids are grown and you don’t feel the purpose that you once did. Stop and seek some friends or family time. If you are finding that is not available, seek help from the community such as a church, get involved in social events, or volunteer. Volunteering gives us a sense of purpose greater than ourselves. It can be very uplifting, especially when we are passionate about the cause. It may be just what we need to ward off the holiday blues.
6) Set aside time to rejuvenate. As much as we need to be connected, we also need time to pause and reflect. This is the time of the year that our health routines get put by the wayside and we put ourselves on the proverbial treadmill. Carve out the time in the morning to drink your morning coffee or smoothie while sitting down and plan out your day. Make sure to include that walk or whatever you do to refresh your mind. You will find taking the time to do this will result in a more productive day and put you in a better emotional state.
Above all, try to relax, breathe, and enjoy the beauty of the season. That final gift you decided you needed to buy last minute, or the extra cookies you didn’t bake will be forgotten. It is the time with your family and friends, creating new memories, and strengthening relationships that will last. These are the things you will remember!
Cheers to a wonderful holiday season!
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