The holiday season seems to start earlier and earlier every year, lengthening the holiday stress period too. From October on, there’s another holiday around the corner complete with parties to plan or attend, decorations to put up and many pictures to post. It’s a tough season for a million different reasons, but it doesn’t have to be.
One thing we always seem to forget is that we can put down our phones. It doesn’t feel like it though, does it? Just as inflated as your neighbor’s tacky yet adorable blow up Santa, social media inflates our sense of what we should or shouldn’t be doing. Leave the “shoulds” at the beginning of December. If you haven’t, now’s the time to slow down and begin leaving the “shoulds” at the door because everyone celebrates a different way—even if social media doesn’t show it.
No one’s tablescape looks as perfect as Joanna Gaines’ does on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Maybe Martha Stewart’s does—but you see what stress did to her? Now she’s been in jail. The lesson to learn here is that no amount of stress is worth your sanity (or freedom). Here are a few ways you can reduce your stress during the holiday season. Don’t worry: the end is in sight!
Have a Plan A & Maybe Even a Plan B
There’s something powerful about having a plan. Knowing your goals going into the season, of course, helps too, but since we’re nearing Christmas crunch-time, mapping them out now will help you accomplish and experience what you want proactively—not reactively.
Reacting instead of being proactive when it comes to your holiday plans is a recipe for stress.
To Quote Elsa,” Let It Go”
The best laid plans… every mom knows there’s a plan. And then there’s the real plan. And behind the real plan is a backup plan.
Of course it’s hard to let go of the expectation your tablescape will look perfectly pin-able. After all, your feeds are flooded with images that make you think it’s possible your dining room table will be perfect come 4 p.m. after the cat has knocked off a napkin or two, maybe even eaten a flower off the centerpiece. Those pictures make you feel like it’s possible the Christmas tree might get to have ornaments on the lower half, this year (surprise: don’t let fate tempt you).
Let go of the expectation everything will go smoothly.
Ride the wild wave that is the holiday season and remember that the holiday season is much like the first few years of your child’s life. It’s short and it blows by too quickly if you don’t slow down to appreciate it.
Pump the Brakes
This is the part most moms (read: women and adults in general) have trouble with. Slowing down is really hard when there’s a lot to be done. There are presents to be bought, friends to see, parties to attend, things to cook, things to clean… If only there were a few more hours in the day. But there aren’t and the way to fix this very fast track to a holiday breakdown is to slow down to enjoy the hours you do have in the day.
Celebrate Your Way
There’s no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Not everyone celebrates Hanukkah. Not every religion has a holy holiday to celebrate in December. With that in mind, take to heart the thought that obviously, no two families celebrate the same way.
If you do not buy your children lots of presents and wrap them in Santa’s Workshop in the North Pole while they sleep, it’s okay. If you spend lots of time decorating lavish presents, a beautiful ornamental tree and cultivating a holiday house—that’s okay too.
There’s no right or wrong way to celebrate, with the exception of finding yourself stressed out. That’s certainly the wrong way to celebrate the holidays. Consider turning off your phone, too. You won’t miss the photo opportunities if you make like your mother and dress up your children to take photos with Santa (they don’t cost much) at a mall nearby. Let the social media buzz soften during this season.
Spend time with the people you love, set a plan according to the experiences you want to have, create a backup plan you’ll be happy with too, let go of your expectations and slow down to enjoy the reason for the season.