For many of us, once Halloween is over the frenzy and stress of Thanksgiving and Christmas begins. Budgets, time and resources are stretched. We hyperventilate. We overspend. We overschedule. And much of this occurs because we want to give our families a “perfect” holiday.
By simplifying our holidays, we may be able to provide more joy and less stress.
1. Set your intentions for the holiday season
Intentions are extremely powerful. Ask your family about their favorite part of the holidays. Chances are it’s not an avalanche of presents!
2. Question or limit consumerism
Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with a horde of gifts! Instead, try some new traditions, like homemade gifts, a family gift exchange, or a “Secret Santa” activity. Family traditions during the holiday time are extremely meaningful and don’t have to cost a lot. Ideas include watching a holiday play or movie together, decorating your home, enjoying holiday light displays, or making cookies for Santa together.
3. Set aside differences
Try to accept family members and friends as they are. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress too.
4. Don’t abandon healthy habits
Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. The holidays are a common time to partake of too much caffeine, sugar, and alcohol. Try having a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets and drinks. Don’t skimp on sleep. Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
5. Get outdoors
The holidays can be a lovely time to enjoy nature and walk off that extra helping of stuffing. Often there are less people on the walking trails and in the parks. Celebrate the winter solstice (December 21) by slowing down. Take a walk and then perhaps have a family game night on the year’s longest night.
6. Say no to some activities
Do you really have to attend every office, school, and neighborhood party or event? Decide which activities are truly important to you and your family, and try to guiltlessly skip the rest. The same goes for holiday cooking, decorating, and other activities. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart! If something isn’t pleasurable, opt to do something you enjoy instead.
7. Give to someone less fortunate
There are many opportunities to serve and give over the holidays. Help at a local food kitchen, or participate in a toy or book drive. The holidays can be a difficult time for those who have lost a loved one during the year or are facing a serious illness. Give of your time by writing a note, making a telephone call, or visiting someone who may be struggling.