This is my favorite time of year. The lead up to Christmas. The sparkling lights on the tree. The music. Even the icy New York weather. I love it all.
But for many years there’s also been a part of me that’s dreaded it. The endless amount of presents that need to be purchased, often at the last minute. The overeating and food hangovers. And for us, we’ve spent the last decade rushing to three separate houses in the span of two days (Christmas eve and Christmas day) to see our various family members. By the time it’s all over, I’m completely fried.
If you’re like me, and you often toss your needs and well-being aside to meet holiday expectations, here are some tips to help you survive this holiday season (and a free Holiday Survival Guide you can download at the end of the post):
Create a Guiding Feeling
This year, I want the holidays to feel like *magic*.
Now that my little ones are full blown toddlers, I want them to experience magic, not overwhelm. With this feeling in mind, I will spend less time shopping, and more time creating new traditions and memories.
Letters to Santa that are filled with more gratitude than requests, ornaments that we make ourselves, vegan sugar cookies in the oven. Simple instead of hectic. Experiences more than purchases. Magic. That feeling won’t happen all on its on, I need to consciously create it with new traditions and intentional limitations, so that’s what I’m working on.
What feeling are you longing for this holiday season? How can you use it to consciously create your holiday experience and guide you through each day of the season?
Be a Little Selfish
For the first time in over a decade, we won’t be driving all over New York to three separate families in two days. It’s what we’ve always done, what’s expected of us, but we’re creating new traditions for our little ones and exhaustion isn’t one of them.
This change in our holiday plans feels selfish and I fill with guilt at the mere thought of it. But I also fill with relief, knowing that I am honoring the feeling that’s guiding me as our family has evolved.
How can you take better care of yourself this holiday season? Even if it means being a little selfish.
When overwhelm starts to take over, pausing to take deep breaths can calm and center you. Whether you meditate regularly or not, the simple practice of taking slow deep breaths can ease your anxiety, reduce your overwhelm and help you make decisions faster. Stretching your muscles afterward can also do wonders to reduce stress, and it can be done in just a couple of minutes.
Feeling overwhelmed? Remember, there is nothing you can’t handle. You are stronger than any overwhelm that comes your way. Pause and breathe deeply and you will be reminded of that.
This year I refuse to subject myself to last minute stressful holiday shopping. I have scheduled time in my calendar to have all presents purchased by December 12th. Considering I’ve been known to run around purchasing presents up until the day before Christmas, this is an improvement. I want to enjoy the lead up to Christmas, without stress and shopping malls.
By when would you like to have all of your holiday to-dos accomplished? Make a list of everything you need to purchase and schedule time for it in your calendar so that you’re not putting undue stress on yourself at the last minute.
I have always struggled with the focus on material items during the holidays. There have been countless years where I found myself buying item after item as if that would prove to someone just how much I loved them. In reality, all it does it add to their amount of “stuff” and put a gaping hole in my bank account. This year, I’m focusing on thoughtfulness over quantity, with no more than two presents per person (well, the kids will get a little more). I’ve also already asked our family to please keep the gifts to a minimum, as we already have all we need.
If you’re struggling financially, or if you also don’t love getting caught up in the consumer driven culture of the holidays, remember that there are so many ways to show love and create the holiday spirit. What really matters is the feeling you create for your loved ones, not the money you spend.
To help make this holiday season as stress-free for you as possible, I created a Holiday Survival Guide printable. It’s free, you can download it here: Holiday Survival Guide
I hope it helps to keep you stress-free, focused on what matters, and organized as you head into the holidays.
How will you create a little more magic and a little less overwhelm for yourself this holiday season?