Holiday season is here and, if you’re like us, you’re looking forward to all of the festive gatherings, cozy evenings snuggled up by the fire, and fun traditions the season brings! As the world continues to slowly open back up, it seems people are quickly filling up their calendars. Although this can all be very thrilling, it’s important to acknowledge that this return to social events, and the holiday season in general, can lead to fatigue, anxiety, depression, and feelings of being overwhelmed.
About 14 percent of adults in the U.S. experience the “winter blues” and many factors can trigger these feelings but overscheduling is a big one! If glancing at your calendar makes you cringe or you immediately sense the anxiety rising, you may be overscheduled. The good news is that what we choose to put on our calendars is very much within our control. Below are 7 strategies you can start implementing today to set yourself up for a calmer, more enjoyable holiday season!
Identify your priorities. What are the traditions and events that are most important to your family during the holiday season? Make a list of these non-negotiables and add them to your calendar, even special family outings like shopping for a Christmas tree.
Strategize. Be realistic about what you and your family can do outside of your holiday non-negotiables. Approach every invitation with intention and don’t hesitate to politely decline any invites that are going to make your days feel frantic and overcommitted. You can even block out mornings or afternoons for down time or relaxing family moments to avoid stacking too much into one day or a single weekend.
Streamline gift-giving. Try streamlining your holiday gift rituals. Instead of each person giving a gift to every other person in your family or friend group, consider drawing names to cut down on how much time you’ll have to spend shopping. Within your immediate family, try using gift categories to make shopping easier – think something to wear, something to read, and something you need.
Start early. What details stress you out and distract you from being present during the holidays? Is it the gifting? The cooking? Keeping your house clean for visitors? Planning class parties? Start tackling those tasks now. Buy and wrap your gifts. Plan your menus. Make grocery lists. The less you leave to the last minute, the more likely it is you can enjoy a stress-free holiday season!
Ask for help, accept help, and outsource. Let’s stop trying to do all the things on our own this holiday season. What are some tasks you can hand off to lighten your load and help you enjoy this exciting time of year? Here are some ideas to get you started: give everyone around the house an extra holiday-related chore (think picking up pine needles or cleaning the powder bath after guests drop by for a visit), do more take-out dinners, let another parent volunteer organize the teacher gift, split the cost of ordering a meal for your holiday party or make it a potluck so you don’t get stuck cooking everything.
Stick to your wellness routines. Don’t neglect the practices that keep you grounded. Aim for daily movement, lots of sleep, regular mindfulness exercises, and any other rituals that preserve your energy and help you remain present, even during the busiest times of the year.
Know your limits and listen to your gut. If something feels like too much, say no. If you think your kids may be overstimulated or overtired, then they probably are! If you sense the need for rest and space, give yourself the greatest gift of all – time to think, breathe, and just be.
Cheers to a beautiful holiday season ahead, defined not only by festive events and traditions, but also by those beautiful, ordinary, unscheduled moments. May we be fully present, mindful of our needs, and grateful for everyone who makes our days so bright.