Aim for merry-making without crazy-making.
What’s your favorite holiday? For many, the winter holiday season (loosely including Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day) is the highlight of the entire calendar year. This joyous season brings fun foods, family gatherings, friendly festivities and many other bounteous blessings.
On the other hand, the holiday season may also be a supreme source of stress for many. In fact, every blessing of the holidays may also carry a frenetic flip side. While some folks may celebrate the season in sweet bliss and merriment, others may become agitated, overscheduled, frustrated or even depressed.
How can the holiday season be restored to a time of love, joy and peace?
Seven basic stress-busting steps may help to keep holiday celebrations manageable and enjoyable.
Season in Sanity: Plan ahead.
Organization and advanced planning can do much to reduce holiday stress. Smart seasonal celebrants begin holiday gift shopping many months before the season begins. Online shoppers and mail-order catalog browsers have long understood the value and convenience of selecting and purchasing holiday gifts well in advance.
Holiday greeting cards may be produced or purchased and addressed early in the fall (or even during the Thanksgiving weekend). A well-kept personal address list (with printable labels) can also be a significant holiday stress-buster.
Season in Sanity: Decorate in a day.
Holiday decorating may be enjoyable, but it can also be incredibly time-consuming and stressful. Why not set aside a single day to trim the tree and deck the halls for the holiday season?
Some folks like to enlist the assistance of the whole family or a few fun friends, and make a holiday event out of seasonal decorating.
Essentially, if seasonal decorating takes more than a day or two, then it may be time to trim the trimmings.
The same principle may be performed for holiday baking and cooking. Setting aside a single day in the kitchen and then freezing holiday treats can make this tradition fun, rather than frantic.
Season in Sanity: Manage the munching madness.
In many homes, the fabulous food orgy begins with Halloween and runs clear through Valentine’s Day. Sweet and salty snacks, bounteous buffets and other waist-stretchers tempt holiday celebrants throughout the cold-weather months, in particular. Although the countless traditional and contemporary cuisine choices may be enjoyable, the departure from a regular diet may prove stressful to many.
Managing a basic healthy diet is certainly a challenge during the holidays, but this contributes greatly to the semblance of needed sanity. A few binges may be fun, but overall, good nutrition can certainly help most to feel better throughout the holiday season.
On the other hand, holiday revelers need not beat themselves up with self-imposed guilt for a few extra calories at seasonal celebrations. After all, balance is the key to reduced stress.
Season in Sanity: Stay simple.
Culturally, gift-giving has become the highlight of the holiday season. As delightful as this may seem, particularly to younger holiday celebrants, season’s greetings need not focus wholly on material items. The shopping and spending can prove costly to both pocketbooks and personalities.
Many families, clubs, workplace departments and other groups choose to draw names for gift-giving. Others opt to make group donations to charitable organizations, in lieu of exchanging personal gifts. White elephant gift parties and Yankee swaps are also popular. These tactics can greatly reduce the stress of holiday gift-giving.
Season in Sanity: Be bold with boundaries.
Overscheduling may be the single greatest stress-maker of the holiday season. Seeking super celebrations, many families and friends allow their calendars to overflow with holiday parties, projects, pageants and other events. These commitments may be piled on top of regular daily responsibilities, such as work and home obligations.
What is the result? Instead of enjoying the holiday season, folks become rushed, frustrated and even impatient. Where is the holiday spirit, if folks must race the clock?
Creative holiday celebrants seek to carve out personal time to spend alone or with loved ones. A quiet evening at home with a good book, a shared family board game or a favorite holiday movie can be a super stress-buster during the holiday season.
Season in Sanity: Edit expectations.
Often, personal expectations may drive folks into a season of stress, rather than celebration, during the holidays. Seeking to recreate ideal traditions or memories of holidays past, or to fulfill holiday fantasies, can prove futile and frantic. Instead of enjoying the holiday season, celebrants may be tempted to overdo, to try to top previous holidays or to create the perfect party or new holiday memories.
When did holiday revelry become a rat race? Maybe it is time to adjust personal expectations, or oneself and of others, and simply bask in the simple beauty of the holiday season.
Season in Sanity: Crate for convenience.
Once the holiday season has passed, a little organization can greatly simplify the packing of seasonal items, adding to the ease of the following year’s celebration. Strategic storage (perhaps in clearly labeled bins or boxes) makes holiday decorations, greeting cards, wrapping papers and other supplies readily accessible for the next year.
Discarding or donating unused items also streamlines the tasks that will be required later.
Perhaps it is time for the holiday season to return to a season of simplicity, a time to be treasured and a moment of magic, rather than madness. In sanity and celebration, the holiday season may be merry without becoming mayhem.
May the holidays be happy, but not harried.