Silent Night and Happy New Year time again. But for millions of
American’s all is not proceeding so calm and joyously. You
start out envisioning the holidays as a wonderful opportunity
to bring your family together, shower each other with gifts, relax,
watch a movie, enjoy good food, and disconnect from the barrage
of news about terrorism, crime, and the uncertain economy.
however, reality sets in and you find yourself frantically running
around trying to buy just the right presents for everyone, avoid
overspending, prepare a variety of delicious holiday foods, plan
holiday get-togethers with relatives, friends at work and neighbors,
do something charitable for someone to really catch the holiday
spirit, and rushing to finish up final projects at the office.
What sometimes happens is that you leave regular day light saving
time and switch over to a lurking nightmare called Holiday time.
That means you work longer hours trying to meet end of the year
deadlines, stay up later to get holiday preparations accomplished,
and wake up earlier trying to get a head start on the day.
make matters worse, your kids may be riding a wave of sugar induced
hyper-active euphoria, bed time schedules fluctuate all over the
place, people come to visit, and your normal schedule of regular
daily activities goes out the window. Soon each day becomes an
overloaded blur of worrying about this and that, running here
and there, and trying to sort out what to do first, second, and
blues are common and some level of holiday stress is normal, so
most of us adapt to it. But higher levels of stress and anxiety
or poor personal strategies for adjusting to holiday stress and
anxiety may bring out the worst in you. Too much stress can affect
your physical and emotional well-being, and ruin the whole holiday
season for yourself and everyone else. The following questions
can help you decide whether you are handling holiday stress in
a robust and healthy way.
more “Yes” answers that you have to these questions,
the more likely that you may not be dealing with holiday stress
in the most efficient way.
you are one of millions of people who are feeling distress in
your mind or body, there’s good news. You can learn to manage
your stress, reduce your anxiety, and regain more holiday peace,
joy, and laughter by making some simple changes in your life.
Use the following five tips to start the process.
and End Each Day in a Positive Way
should start handling holiday stress first thing in the morning.
Before you get out of bed in the morning, think of something that
will put a smile on your face and a warm feeling in your heart.
Think of your spouse and all the good things that happen because
you are together and always willing to help each other make it
a good day. Think of how delighted your children were when you
gave them each a much wanted Christmas present last year. Warm
your heart by taking a moment to count your blessings. And don’t
forget to start each morning with a little celebration in your
mind because, unlike many other people, you are able to get up,
breathe, accomplish work, and find wonderful, new ways to enjoy
you do get out of bed, instead of first reading the morning newspaper
or turning on the TV or some loud music, start your day with a
prayer, or read something uplifting or turn on some inspirational
music. Take the time to shower and groom yourself properly. Allow
enough time to eat breakfast slowly, find out what the family
is doing today, and if you have to go to work, leave early enough
to drive leisurely to work and enjoy the ride.
an effective morning ritual of activities will put you on the
path to a peaceful day. If you start the day right it will be
easier for you to stay on course during the day and end the day
in a positive way. Before you go to sleep, review all the good
things that you have been able to accomplish. Pat yourself on
the back. Feel the joy of each successful accomplishment. If problems
and concerns begin to crowd into your mind, don’t panic.
Think about those concerns for a few minutes. Decide what you
might do about them tomorrow. That’s right. Tell yourself
that you can’t do much about anything tonight. But you will
attend to those nagging little thoughts tomorrow. Then put a smile
back on your face and possibly a little song in your heart, relax,
and allow yourself to drift off to a peaceful sleep.
Real About the Holidays
will never be able to do all the things that you feel that you
should do about celebrating the holidays. You will never be able
to give everyone the right gift, invite the right people over
to your house, focus totally on the real spirit of Christmas,
do many marvelous charitable acts, decorate the house and yard,
send Christmas cards to everyone, help your extended family, help
your own family, buy the right food for parties and dinners, select
the proper activities and entertainment for family members and
friends, figure out how best to celebrate the New Year, decide
on new year resolutions, and on and on and on.
feel badly. You are not alone in this “not enough time mess.”
No one can do all the things that they would like to for their
families, work world friends and neighbors, communities and churches,
and for themselves. The reason is that time is finite but the
demands that we place on our time is infinite. No one can do everything
that they would like to do for everyone, especially during the
get real. Decide early what is important and what is not important.
If you have to, create a “don’t do list.” Think
about last year’s holiday celebrations and what seemed to
work for you and what didn’t. Think of your own immediate
family first. Ask yourself, what activities and traditions would
be of most value to them? Ask family members how they would like
to celebrate the Christmas and New Year holidays. Ask them what
they like and what they don’t like. Don’t get caught
up in trying to do everything for everybody. You can’t do
it. If you try you will end up a classical basket case! Getting
real is a tough assignment. But you can do it. Figure out in your
mind what matters most during the holidays. Do that and learn
to let go of the rest. You will be much happier if you do, and
so will everyone around you.
Your Dreams and Focus Your Efforts
much about the holidays is special to us because they happen only
one time each year. You may want to send personal messages to
people instead of simply signing greeting cards. You may have
special family foods and get-togethers that have become traditional
in your family and help keep your family close and united. These
things are not the problem. It’s when you try to have more
holiday experiences than you or your family can handle. If you
are planning to bake treats for the whole neighborhood, get everyone
ready for a concert, drive everyone around to look at the Christmas
lights, return home for special desserts and watching a movie,
you have just fallen prey to a huge stressor mess-up. Instead
of great enjoyment, you will end up at your wits end because the
kids have had too much of a good thing, and everyone ends up worn
out and dissatisfied.
about all the things that you are trying to do. It might be better
to pick one or two of them and do them well. Ask yourself, “What
would my family really miss if it weren’t part of our holiday
celebration?” and then ask yourself “what I could
live without?” You may find out that you are creating the
over scheduling problem not everyone else. The idea is to scale
back a little and simplify your dreams. You might want to forget
about giving an office party if you see those people every day
at work. Rather than spending your time trying to find the perfect
gift for your friends and relatives, you may want to give them
some of your jam or jelly. At least they will think of you when
they put it on their toast each morning! What we are trying to
say is that this is a good time of the year to forget perfect
and embrace simple.
key here is to be more careful about how you use your time so
that you can actually do less, accomplish more of the useful things,
and have time to take frequent relaxation breaks. You may not
have to decorate all the rooms in your house. Possibly you could
decorate the one in which you spend the most time and put poinsettias
in other rooms. You may be able to reduce the hassle of gift giving
by giving certain groups on your list a similar present like throws
of different colors and designs, books, gourmet foods, or DVD’s.
Gift certificates to a favorite eating place or a night or two
in an interesting place to stay make great gifts and require practically
no time to purchase.
Delegate, Delegate and Delete the Rest
know what you are thinking. You are thinking that delegation has
more to do with organizational and leadership effectiveness than
it has to do with celebrating the holidays. And you also may be
thinking that it is easier to do things yourself rather than trying
to get someone else to do something. Well, guess what? You are
mostly wrong on both accounts.
example, most men really don’t know where to begin when
it comes to planning happy, stress-free holidays. This is a unique
opportunity for a husband to ask his wife what he can do to help
her prepare for the forthcoming holiday. This is also a splendid
opportunity for the wife to decide with her husband which specific
tasks he could do and when they need to be done. When the what
to do’s and the when’s to do it have been decided,
be sure to report on the completion of each task so both of you
know how the holiday preparations are coming. Husbands may be
more able to do things like put up the lights, wrap the bigger
presents, and pick up much needed items from the store. But they
are also quite able to buy gifts for their side of the family
as well as help keep the family under control while the wife wrestles
with completing other important holiday tasks.
your children start to get restless because they say that they
are getting bored on the holiday break, give them something to
do. Polish the silver, vacuum the floor, clean out your draws
and closets, watch your little brother for a few minutes while
I get dinner ready are good ways to get everyone involved. Better
yet is to divide up household chores. Let your children do every
possible thing that they can do to keep the house running smoothly.
Everyone’s contribution makes them feel needed and teaches
family members how to work together. And of course, when others
share the workload, there is less pressure on mom and dad to get
everything done. Finally, don’t forget to encourage your
children to make gifts for family members. A note of thankfulness
and a promise to do better makes a splendid gift to moms and dads.
A certificate entitling a brother or sister to four hours of help
on one of their special projects is a much appreciated gift. A
promise to help grandma clean her house, or take her out for shopping
is usually more valued than another knickknack. Most children
are quite creative and have a pretty good idea about what kind
of gift they could make for someone. They just need to be asked
to do it.
a sister in law or a brother in law calls and offers help, take
it. Decide on a task that they could accomplish because of what
they know, or who they know, or where they work. There is always
something that a helpful person can do to take a little of the
holiday preparation pressure off your back. And lastly, if you
run into a problem figuring how to do something in connection
with celebrating a holiday, don’t be afraid to call a friend
and ask for their suggestions. Many sympathetic ears are waiting
to lighten your load, but they can’t help you until you
make your needs known.
decide what is most important for you and your family during the
holiday season, delegate as much as you can, and forget the rest.
Keep in mind that no matter how much time and effort you put into
holiday planning you can not control the results. Be happy about
your best efforts and enjoy the holiday season no matter what
form the final results take.
Care for Yourself First on Your Holiday List of Things to Do
fifth tip might sound a little selfish when you first read it.
After all, aren’t we suppose to put others needs before
our own. The truth of the matter is that if you let yourself become
run down, fatigued, stressed out, and overanxious, you will do
great harm to yourself and probably won’t be of much use
to anyone else. This is the time of the year that you need to
be in your best physical and emotional state so as to accomplish
much and yet be patient and encouraging with others. This is definitely
not the time to get so overly stressed that you find yourself
panicked or on the edge of falling apart emotionally.
is a short list of the best things that you can do to keep yourself
from getting overly nervous and anxious during the hustle and
bustle of the holiday season.