Welcome to November, my dear readers! The holiday season here in the US officially kicked off yesterday with Halloween and now we’re off for another holiday season! There is so much joy to be had celebrating the holidays with family, friends, and food. Between Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Diwali, Hanukkah, New Year’s and several more, there is a LOT going on! And, if you’re not careful, it’s easy to get swept up into everything, stressed out, burned out, and desperately counting the days to January 1 when you can start recovering. Just like with everything else in life, getting through the holidays is a skill that anyone can acquire – it just takes some practice. There are 2 main tricks I’ve learned that make everything go much easier:
- Guard your mental health
- Plan ahead
If this is your first year planning ahead, then good for you for getting started! This year might be a bit rocky as you figure it out, but it gets easier every year. I can’t promise that your holidays will be stress-free (because I don’t think that’s possible), but hopefully by sticking to these 2 tricks, your holiday season will go much smoother.
Merry Mental Health
The first, and probably most important, part to a less-stress holiday season is to guard your mental health. The holidays are a solid 2-month marathon (possibly even 3 months if you start in October with Halloween), so it does nobody any good to go hard at the beginning and then fade at the end. If you feel good and happy and the holidays light you up, then that’s beautiful. If you feel good and happy and the holidays light you up but you don’t have infinite amounts of energy, then that’s still beautiful but you also need to find a way to conserve your energy. As you might know, I’ve struggled with mental health issues in the past and the holiday season can sometimes exacerbate any struggles you might have. If you are one of these people, know first off that you are a wonderful being and, assuming that you stick around, this too shall pass. Second, you need to take care of yourself. No matter who you are, if you find that things are getting too overwhelming, it’s okay to step back and take a breath. Those who love you will understand and, if they don’t understand, then they have their own issues to deal with (of which you aren’t one).
There are 2 main categories that affect mental health the most: 1) general holiday stress, and 2) dealing with family. For general holiday stress, don’t worry about it. Seriously. If making cookies or wrapping presents gets to be too much, then stop! Step back, take a breath, watch some TV, and come back if and when you’re ready. Don’t let finding the perfect gift or getting 10 dozen cookies baked and decorated in time or making sure your house is properly decorated get in the way of enjoying the holiday season. Nobody should care if you have it all done…and I feel sorry for them if they really care that much. If you’re an introvert and can only handle so much cheer, then don’t stress yourself out by spending a lot of time at holiday parties. Do what I do and enjoy time by yourself or with a close friend or 2 doing holiday activities that you enjoy. There is no one right way to do the holidays.
If your stress stems from dealing with family, then try to establish some boundaries and limit how much contact time you have with them. That’s the best advice I can give you. And if you just can’t avoid a particularly stressful family member, then know that you only have to spend a limited amount of time with them and then January will be here and you can go back to your normal life. Take deep breaths and you’ll get through this.
Planning to Make Merry
After taking care of your mental healthy, the best way to make the holidays go as smoothly as possible is to plan ahead. If you plan to give gifts this year, make a list of everyone who gets a gift from you. Start thinking now about what to give them so that you can go ahead and order gifts. If you are hosting any events, start thinking now about what food to serve, any decorations, and who will attend. Steal a page from my book and create a Google spreadsheet online with all this information. It does not have to be fancy at all. Take a look at my “master” spreadsheet from 2017:
And here is how I put together my super simple spreadsheet for tracking gifts (names hidden):
If you choose to make your own, start with the column headings and then put in all the names on the left-hand side.You can fill in the gifts and costs later as you decide what to give people.
In planning ahead, don’t stress yourself out by doing everything at once. Remember, the tortoise won the race by going slow and steady.
Lastly, make sure your calendar is up to date with any and all events that are happening. Make special notes if you need to bring anything like a party gift, hostess gift, side dish, dessert, or anything else. Also make a note about what the dress code is – theme, formal, or casual. If you have to RSVP, be kind to the host and RSVP as soon as you know whether you are attending. If you are hosting, give your guests plenty of time to RSVP.
Go Forth and Make Merry!
This post only has a couple of overarching ideas to help reduce holiday stress and there are so many other ways, but these are the 2 biggest ones I know. If you can protect your mental health and plan ahead, you’re already ahead of the game. To help you out even more, I am sharing my (super simple) holiday spreadsheets with you. They are available here! I left my to-dos on the Master Spreadsheet tab so you can get an idea of some holiday to-dos. I also inserted some name place-holders on the gift tab for you to help get you started on that front. If you use them, please come back and let me know how they worked for you. Good luck and Happy Holidays!
If this post was helpful to you, please share! These posts aren’t written for me – they’re written for you and your friends! So, if you know anybody who could use some help and advice in reducing their stress this holiday season, consider forwarding this post to them.