’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the houses
Not an elf was stirring, not even their spouses.
Why? Because Santa drove them really hard this year. And they had to get ready for the holidays, too. Between all the working, planning, baking, and shopping, they were exhausted and stressed-out! They could’ve used some holiday survival tips.
Does that describe you, too? This is the time of year when we can easily go into a festive frenzy. In the process, our normal day-to-day routines get displaced by splurging, overeating, and partying.
And any number of other situations can short-circuit an otherwise joyful celebration. Family dynamics are a big one. It’s always good to see the relatives – unless it’s uncle Bob who likes to tell off-colour jokes in front of the kids.
Survival Tips That Keep It Simple
Take heart, you can get through it all and be ready for the new year, refreshed and positive. So here’s a brief list of what you can do to accomplish that. Like the big guy in the red suit, don’t forget to check it twice (or more):
• Focus on the real meaning of the season
Despite its commercial appeal, the holidays are a time for family and friends to gather in celebration of the spirit of the season. It’s a time to let go of personal conflicts, forgive others, and focus positively on the present and future.
• Stay open to change
Family traditions are deeply rooted. As families change, so will holiday traditions. These changes can be brought about by separation and divorce, or a death.
In the former case, talk about holiday plans as a family well ahead of time. Come to an agreement so there are no misunderstandings that could create unnecessary conflict.
Don’t let bereavement prevent you from celebrating the season. Continue to observe your family traditions and share memories with your family about your loved one. Certainly don’t feel guilty about enjoying the season.
• Do what’s right for you
When relatives or friends present certain expectations at Christmas, be open to negotiation. But don’t let guilt feelings cloud your judgement. If you have other plans, say so. There’s no need for an explanation.
Budget for Time, Money, and Fun
These three factors can be real deal breakers if you don’t have a plan in place beforehand. Put them at the top of your Christmas survival tips:
• Don’t spread yourself thin
Beware of trying to do it all if you’re playing host. Delegate duties so others can help with holiday preparations. And take shortcuts wherever possible. Likewise, don’t except every invitation to the point of exhaustion. It’s a recipe for disaster.
• Practice strategic spending
It’s very tempting to purchase one more gift or feel the need to compete with relatives or friends for buying the best gifts. Before you buy, ask yourself this: “Do I need to do this? Do I want to do this?
To help you stay in bounds of your budget, ask family members what they really want. There’ll be no disappointments and it’ll save everyone the time and effort to return an unwanted item. Shop with cash and shop early in the season. For maximum convenience (and savings), try shopping online.
• Play games
The holidays are a time when family members can get a little antsy from being together for an extended period. Before any tensions build, keep everyone happy with a group activity. Games (my personal favourite is Taboo), walks, skating, or tobogganing work well. They’ll have fun and fond memories to last until next Christmas.
Nurture Yourself Too
In the midst of upheaval, it’s important to carve out quiet time for yourself. Keep your energy flowing (and temper even) with these common sense reminders:
• Maintain as many regular routines as possible. They’ll keep you grounded.
• Eat healthy and avoid food binging, too much caffeine or alcohol.
• Get plenty of sleep. It’ll recharge you to cope with the demands of a holiday schedule.
• Meditate as long as you need to every day. It’ll keep you calm and relaxed.
When all is said and done, realistic expectations and these handy holiday survival tips will help you avoid unneccessary anxiety and stress.
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