I used to shake my head and procrastinate about pulling things together for the "holiday season," which in my life, extends from October-ish through mid January. A victim of the holiday stress. Okay a little dramatic, but that's what holiday stress does to some of us.
And then one year, I woke up, after attending a holidays/stress workshop at the Amherst library.
New perspective: Manage it instead of giving up and letting it managing you. Or trying to do everything you normally do and THEN add holidays on top of it all.
So how can you turn this around in your life? Here are my five best suggestions - I don't know your particular situation, but think about how one or more of these could work for you, even if you have to tailor an idea a bit.
Realize that this IS more on you at this time of year.
What to do: We have this magical thinking that despite feeling crazy busy much of the year, we can STILL handle more at the holiday season.
Stop the magical thinking; this is where the stress comes from, the difference between what you expect and what you can realistically handle.
Realizing this IS more and that you don't have to do it all, especially for everyone else, is a big shift, but the most important one.
Decide what is MOST important.
What to do: Less is more, right? When you go on vacation and you cram so much into the week that it's all a blur, what's that like? When you return somewhere you've been before and take the week at a slower pace, what's that like? Slower. More mindful. More aware of what you really enjoy.
Discuss with your immediate household members - including children and parents who live with you - what they find most beautiful about this time of year.
These become your priorities for where to spend time and money. If you need to, set high/medium/low priorities or some relative measure. This way, if you have extra time, you can go deeper into the list. Or it'll be easier to know what people said wasn't really all that important. Maybe that becomes a high priority for next year.
For me, I know it's: music, family, something meditative or spiritual, and the good and positive energy in the air, the smell of evergreens, the beauty of outdoors.
Use your calendar and planner - more now than ever.
What to do: Those priorities you just discussed - put those first into your calendar. Get them blocked in, before other invitations and "must do" events fill up your time.
It's fairly predictable in my household that certain weekends are spent away from home. So now I block our events, block those away-weekends, and then step back. I have figured out over time that I need one weekend a month at home, ideally two, to feel anchored. Anchored to me means I have my head clear, feel fairly well in control, not scattered - and just anchored to my own home. My head feels organized, so I feel calmer all around. Make sense?
Research shows that stress causes forgetfulness - since we know this, even if you're not usually a list maker or planner/PDA person, now would be a great time to use both. Even if only for this season.
Organize your days differently.
What to do: I like to grocery shop on the weekends, preferably Sunday. There are certain household management chores I prefer to do on weekends rather than weeknights. And that's where I was stuck in my thinking that these were the only good times to handle these chores. That works pretty well for most of the year, but thinking differently at the holidays has been a sanity-saver.
Instead, just for these few months, I look at my calendar each week and get creative (which I like to do, it turns out - because I like variety). Each week the trip may be a different evening/day.
What to do: Times of stress, of change or overload are the best times to give yourself (and your budget) some permission to hire out services.
Decide what you really feel more comfortable controlling. Let other things go and keep the tasks which really need to be done your way.
Which idea could you try out this year? Just one can make a difference. Your stress level is worth it - release the stress and you'll enjoy these moments even more. Hope these tips help you do that.