Overwhelm. It happens to everyone, but the holidays are no joke.
On top of all of life’s normal responsibilities, obligations, and must-dos, life throws a whole new pile of awesome right on top in December. Parties, volunteering, traveling, shopping, planning, cooking, wrapping … just thinking about it can send you into a tailspin.
And who wants to be seen as The Grinch in the midst of all this merry-making?
Not I, no way. So what do I do?
Say yes to … well, everything.
Anyone with me?
And then it just all becomes too much. I’m not sure about you, but my brain is not wired to do one thing at a time. It is an effort for me to even think about one thing at a time, much less actually do that thing, and then move on to the next.
All the to-dos, events, and balls to juggle begin to fall around me in my mind, before they’ve even fallen in real life.
And I always, always tell myself- this year it will be different. We aren’t going to get crazy. We are going to calm things down! Keep it simple! Spend time at home sipping hot chocolate and basking in the tree light glow!
But that just doesn’t happen, because as much as I want to keep things simple, I also want to dive into the magic of this season with both feet.
I want to celebrate with my friends. I want to buy the most awesome, meaningful gifts and wrap them in the most beautiful paper. I want to serve at all the local charities. I want to bake cookies and read stories by candlelight each night with my kids, and literally do every holiday thing that is presented to me.
Because it is all wonderful.
So how do you choose between wonderful and wonderful?
Here are a few things that can help you navigate the holiday overwhelm and make it through unscathed, and maybe even more thankful when December 31 rolls around.
1. Recognize that December is going to be more intense.
Unless you lock yourself in a padded room, some of the holiday madness is unavoidable. More traffic, more email ads in your inbox, more time with your crazy aunt, more holiday sweets, just more of everything.
If you can go into it with a full awareness of the reality of the holidays, it won’t throw you off as easily. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, stop and take a deep breath. Remember what you are thankful for, and press on.
2. Extend some grace.
With that in mind, now is not the time of year to get crazy about personal development and goal setting. Save that goodness for January. Right now, your goals are: stay sane, appreciate what really matters, and have fun.
Have you had a few too many Snickerdoodles this week? It’s okay- you get a pass. Did you forget to order that special gift for 60% off before the sale ended? No biggie. This goes for everyone around you too. We are all in this together.
3. Fast forward to January.
I know, I know. Who wants to do that now? But if we can look just a little past the holidays, and picture ourselves sitting at home on New Year’s Day, we can get a little perspective on how this month should go.
When you have arrived at a new year, and you are able to look back on how you spent your time this month, what do you want to remember? Do those things.
4. Filter, filter, filter.
When it comes to information and opportunities during the holidays, we get more thrown at us than ever before. If we aren’t careful, we can find ourselves darting around like spastic puppies chasing after every potential purchase, idea, or event that flies onto our radar.
So this month, recognize that good is the enemy of great. Choose what matters to you and relentlessly stick to it. Delete and decline what doesn’t fit.
5. Cultivate peace.
No matter how many amazing gifts you get, or how awesome the party was, or how on point the green bean casserole was, the one thing you (and your family) are going to remember is the emotional undercurrent of the season.
Guard and protect it like a hawk. If something is stressing everyone out, just say no. It’s not worth it. Embrace rituals and traditions that work for you and give you a sense of joy and peace.
At the end of the season, I hope we can all look back and say with confidence that it was meaningful, memorable, and spent in good health with ones we love the most. Is there anything more important, when it all comes down to it?