How to not go Insane by Minimizing Holiday Stress
It was during the holidays I broke free from my own “perfect home maker prison”, it started with a lie but I have no regrets – I won’t even apologize for it. Maybe it could fall into the category of little white lies, which by the way, having a term for it must mean its almost ok? This time of year our to-do lists tend to get jam packed with extra parties, events or tasks we do simply because we feel like we should. When really, we should be enjoying the season with the people we love most. So today, I want to help you de-stress with 4 tips to minimize holiday stress. It is not brain surgery but I do know this, while these simple suggestions are not always so easy to adopt but once you do, prancing reindeer and Glogg libated Santas will you ever be so happy you did!
Tip #1: Check your calendar for regularly scheduled events that can be temporarily postponed or canceled. What do you have regularly scheduled on a weekly or monthly basis – maybe a weekly meet-up, a conference call or a coaching group – that you should really consider postponing this month? Most people will probably be relieved that you did and thankful they don’t have to come up with an excuse as to why they can’t attend this time. I know you type A’s will try to talk yourselves into keeping these things on your schedule saying…”it doesn’t really take up that much time,” or “I could probably squeeze it in between x,y and z.” But let me ask you this…In terms of your business or workload; is it really THAT big of a deal if you slow down a little this month? Rather than trying to get more customers and do more things, why not use December as a cleanup month? Use this time of year to pull back, reflect on what you’ve done and take a look at where you want to go and what you want to do in the coming year. Look specifically at the things you do that move you forward, get organized, and create systems that allow you to spend more time with your family. Consider saying to the people you have commitments with, “We all have so much going on in December. How about we spend this time with our loved ones and pick this up again in the New Year?” Believe me, by doing this you will be giving everyone a gift.
Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to delegate. It took me a step of lying until I realized it was all ok to to “let go” on the nose that I had rigged for myself… I have struggled to get to this point of delegating because I really did think I HAD to do it, a pressure that only I had put on my self – no one else! I remember being asked to bring desserts/pies for Christmas with my extended family, right after I had had a c-section… I thought to myself, hell! The audacity of asking me this, asking me to bake a bunch of pies. When would I to muster up the energy to not only bake pies but PERFECT pies? Somewhere between the Percocet not having me in a complete fog and not taking care of my toddler, horses and maintaining my business? I swallowed my pride, went to my favorite bakery, picked up several beautiful pies, put them on a baking sheet, knicked them just enough to make them look home made and brought them along. Everyone loved them, wanted the recipe and wanted me to bring them for the next party – I had not been able to stomach admitting I had not made them, I am sure I was soaking up the compliments and at that point it was definitely too late to tell the truth. But seriously, silly me! Now when I look back I’m sure the request was not meant for me to slave away in the kitchen with my 6 inch gash in my abdomen and a baby teetered to my breast but instead a request to make me feel useful by bringing something that I could pick up ready made. A few years later I looked back at this as my first rebel move from my own “perfect home maker prison” and gosh am I ever so happy that I let that go — maybe to a point where I should rein it in.
Another great thing that I have matured to fully embrace to make my holiday season less stressful and more fun is outsourcing the buying, wrapping and delivering of gifts. Yes, I personally come up with the gift and put the thought into it. But that’s just it! It’s the thought that counts! Do you really need to spend another 2-3+ hours driving to the mall, finding a parking spot, searching through crowded stores, buying the gift wrapping and adding the little bows and chachski’s and knickknacks on top? For what?? So someone can say, “Wow did you wrap this?” and you can say, “Yes, yes I did that”…? Isn’t it the thought that really counts? Not the time you spent going to the store and wrapping it (OK, I do love a nice gift wrap and I am quite particular but even my own wrapping creations have gotten more “casj” so ordering gift pre-wrapped actually beats my own high standard most of them time)? So don’t be afraid to delegate these things! Oh and while we’re on the subject, my favorite Amazon!! I loathe the mall, it’s a joke amongst my friends and family how very rarely you could find me at the mall – yak, but Amazon… Now we are talking! You can buy anything and everything on Amazon, and it comes super fast, plus you can kick back in your comfy clothes and a glass of your favorite wine while shopping from the comfort of your own home. This is luxury! Another idea if you are not sold on online shopping is come up with the gifts, then for minimum wage (or a little more), hire a college student who’s home for the holidays with nothing to do looking to make a little extra money to do the shopping and gift wrapping for you. And instead use that time to get ahead and do the things in your core competency. Your time is worth more than $15 an hour! You’re not saving yourself any money by doing these things yourself. Use that time to get organized in your business and do the things that move you forward, so you can spend more time with your family and the people you care about. Have an open mind – when you finally embrace this concept, it will change your life! You will have more wealth and abundance when you realize doing everything yourself isn’t saving your money…it’s costing YOU.
Tip #3: It’s OK to drop that! I’m talking about that thing you’ve become known for during the holidays that you feel pressure to follow through on. Maybe you’re known for making your famous apple pies ( Revisit to Tip #2, LOL) for all of your relatives and the neighbors, or everyone looks forward to the scarves you knit them each year, or you’re known for hosting the big holiday party. But if this thing has become more of a burden than something that brings you joy…why are you doing it? Are you doing it simply so you don’t have to hear people say, “where are your blueberry pies this year?” because that’s not a good enough reason. I used to do this with family Christmas cards. Each year, I’d try to out-do the year before in terms of comedy, coming up with some crazy idea for a funny Christmas card. I’d spend a ton of time on it and all of the sudden it felt like a lot of pressure. So one year, I just decided not to do it. And I felt a huge sense of relief! Why don’t you consider taking a year off from the “thing” you’re known for that causes you stress and see how you feel? If you really miss it and realize it actually brings you joy to do these things, then keep doing them. But if you feel a sense of relief by taking it off your plate, you don’t need to do it anymore! I think sometimes we get caught up in traditions and expectations other people have for us and allow it to control our holiday season. But if it doesn’t actually bring you joy and feels like more of a burden, just drop it!
Tip #4 – Decline Invitations This is the task that can be the most difficult but also the most rewarding. You know that holiday tradition with your extended family that has been going on for years, but it’s a pain in the butt, it’s not enjoyable anymore, and it’s become an inconvenience for your family? That thing you feel like you have to do it just because you’ve always done it? Or that party with your coworkers that aren’t necessarily your first choice of people you’d like to spend your time with, but you feel like you have to be there? Or a gift exchange with a group you’re part of in the community that just adds more stuff to your plate? I’m giving you permission to decline those invitations. This is your written excuse! Doing something just “because I’ve always done it,” or “people expect me to be there” isn’t a good enough reason to do it. Use the “Thanks for thinking of me – let me check my calendar and get back to you” approach. Or simply let people know you have a lot going on this holiday season and won’t be able to make it this year. You don’t owe anyone any more of an explanation than that! Cut down on the things you’re not looking forward to, and you’ll also cut down on your stress! I hope you’ll consider putting these tips into action this year!
Use this time to reflect, refocus, and reorganize. Do the things that will allow you to spend more time focusing on your priorities and remember that this time of year isn’t about being stressed out and adding more things to your plate because of the holidays – it’s about spending more quality time with the people you love most and celebrating the true meaning of the holiday.
If you need an extra shot of confidence to follow through on these things, shoot me a message and I will help you overcom self doubt and creating greater confidence. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day and perhaps holiday preparations. Cheers!