It isn’t a new notion that the holidays are stressful.
And the recent rise of social media has added to our holiday strain by creating a perception of Pinterest perfection and pitting mom against mom (whether intentionally or not) to one up each other to make their families’ holiday the happiest and most magical.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some holiday magic…but at what point does it become more about me, my expectations, my stress, my disappointment and less about enjoying the time with my family and creating lasting memories. How can I channel my excitement and passion for the holidays into a few carefully curated activities and gifts that will create lasting memories without those memories including me crying or screaming? (For more ideas on keeping holiday stress at bay, check out my recent podcast interview above with Laurie Palau on This Organized Life.)
By having a clear focus for your holiday energy, you are more likely to make those experiences truly special…because when we do everything all the time, it is no longer special. It is now our normal. So let’s make the holidays special again!
What are your holiday must-dos? One way to help curb the stress of meeting those holiday expectations is to have a clear view of what is important to you and your family. Is it spending time with extended family and friends? Seeing as many Santas as possible? Having a beautifully decorated home? Making exquisitely wrapped handmade gifts? There is no wrong answer for what your holiday priorities SHOULD be. The issue comes when all activities are given equal weight and importance. Then, as the month goes by and tasks are not completed, the stress and anxiety sets in.
Expectations versus Realities
It is easy to say “lower your expectations”, but how? I mean, once that holiday rat race starts, it plows forward, full speed ahead through New Year’s with few stops along the way. One way is to choose a few specific holiday activities and tasks that are really a priority for your and your family. Focus on doing those things that really matter well rather than “all the things” just ok.
You may be thinking “yeah, right? Limit my holiday activities. Not a chance!” Ok. What about paring back the scope of your activity or asking/hiring someone to do it for you? Chances are there is someone in your community who would love to help you with these tasks. And delegating doesn’t have to mean hiring someone to do all your work…it could mean spreading the work around. One of my favorite holiday traditions is my Cookie Exchange. Baking and seeing my friends are 2 of my holiday priorities. By hosting this one event, I can fellowship with friends and get a ton of yummy treats for my family and neighbors.