Holiday Stress Tips: Keep It Simple
Holiday Stress And Why We Have It
Copyright by Jackie D. Kimball
Norman Rockwell, an Americana artist very popular in that simple post WW ll era, portrayed the picture perfect holiday on canvas.His pictures of jovial families all gathered around a bountiful and delectably cooked table of food graced magazines all over the nation, during holidays. and imposed a need to have the perfect family gathering. Movies Like "It's A Wonderful Life" added the wholesome happy family Christmas idealism.
No doubt our level of stress increases if we impose on ourselves, or let others impose upon us the attempt to make our gathering a cinema worthy holiday. For so many of us, this unreasonable expectation of a Hollywood's version holiday lures us as we see the images flashing on screens,magazines, and billboards. Our desire to please (impress) family and friends with beautifully wrapped gifts,handmade decor, and abundant buffets and heavy laden tables seems attainable when we imagine it all.Our mind envisions the perfect event, and we determine to make it happen, but at what cost to us and even to those around us?
Do we recall the endless lists, shopping, preparing, revisings, assembling,more preparing,last minute shopping, stores crowded with screaming children, grumpy clercks and even grumpier shoppers? Of course not.
In our minds we shop leisurely as the holiday tunes such as "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" waft softly from intercoms. Happy lollipop sucking children are smiling shyly behind their parents as all walk by.We go home with the just so gift for everyone on our list. After a quiet family supper of roast chicken, green beans, and french bread, we curl up on the sofa with hot chocolate checking off our list of "to - do" as the gorgeously decorated tree in the corner twinkles. The rest of the family is in the family room playing a board game, and we sigh contentedly.
Maybe it can be, and is attempted by many who are on the verge of mental and physical collapse by the time the holidays are over.We need to remind ourselves that all of those holiday movies where everything is so utterly perfect is just that. Hollywood hype.
Wrapped in Holiday Style. That's okay,but why not bag some gifts in attractive bags? Try pacing and not putting off all the wrapping until the last minute.
Do we recall the endless lists, shopping, preparing, revisings, assembling,more preparing,last minute shopping, stores crowded with screaming children, grumpy clerks and even grumpier shoppers? Of course not. At least we try not to.
Reality, for many of us, is a faraway memory snuffed out, or at least shoved back somewhere having been replaced with what we want so badly to be true.We will have the best holiday ever!We must!
The truth is that many secretly dread the holidays if we let ourselves recall the reality of years past. Not that we are scrooges, but the thought that we can't do it all to perfection is so daunting until we won't let ourselves dwell on what happened and did not happen on that last grand occasion.
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas ....
We 've all heard the expression "less is more" and many will tell you, that once they liberated themselves from the so -called traditional must do mental list, that they enjoy holidays so much more! Ironic,isn't it, that doing less reaps huge benefits?
Though some men in the household do contribute, it is usually the women that are expected to do the majority of planning holiday events,meals,holiday baking, shopping,gifting, wrapping,decorating,and everything else that is on that six page list! Then there is THE DAY that it all is supposed to go off without a hitch. maybe it will, maybe it won't. Sadly,the die-hard do-it-all will probably be too exhausted to really enjoy the occasion.How can they, when they have had little sleep, little help, and clean-up is yet to come. Paying the bills and repairing the shaky budget also looms ahead.
Consider this; Why? Why must we continue having the elaborate holiday affairs? Why can't we narrow our must do list or even change the list entirely to "might do"? Are you as a reader, ready to entertain that thought? Even considering it is a liberating experience!
Tips for a Calmer Holiday
First of all treat your next holiday as a blank slate. Since I live in the US, I will use Christmas as an example. In your mind, wipe out every must do, every must have,every must attend, every must buy and etc. from your mental list. You can always add back, if you see you have the time, money, and really feel that it adds to the holiday experience.( If you are married or have grown children in the home, it is helpful, but not essential to have them on board with simplifying the holiday.)
Secondly, adknowledge that not everyone will be happy with your plans, and that is okay. Explain to those that are involved that you simply must pare down your activities,then firmly do just as you stated. You can't please everyone,and you must be prepared for this as you say ,"Not this year,I'm sorry."
Most surveys say between sixty and seventy percent of all surveyed name finances as their biggest concern during Christmas. Simplifying holiday events will tame your budget, thus decreasing stress and its accompanying problems such as rising blood pressure and the production of the "fight or flight" hormones adrenaline and cortisol.
Potlucks Are Fun!
So What Do You Really Want?
So let's see what you really want.I'm suggesting you toss,toss, and toss some more! Start your own traditions, not what Mom,Grandma, and Aunt Helena always did.
***Christmas cards - Don't send them, or pare it down to ten or twenty who will truly appreciate your sentiments. Really, just don't send them. I don't, and only a few of my friends do. The world won't stop, and your friends won't be whispering (gasping) that YOU did not send out Christmas cards!
***Gifts- make a gifting budget and stick to it. Cross off some people that you have reluctanlty bought gifts for in the past. You can let them know nicely that you won't be exchanging gifts this year, but you do not owe them an explanation. Suggest drawing names instead of buying every aunt and uncle a gift. This may take a financial burden from some who were hesitant to speak up about it.
***Decorating- Elaborately decorating the lawn, doors, fences, and every room in the house is costly and time consuming. It physically and emotionally drains those responsible for executing the plan. What would it really take to make your home cozy and festive? Not as much as most do. Do you really need more than one tree? A few lights in the window and a holiday wreath on the door make your home look charming, with the cost and work being minimal. In other rooms red and green candles placed strategically can add holiday ambience. A few bowls of fruit and holiday potholders add cheer to the kitchen.
Parties and Events- trim those must attend parties down to one or two. Skip hosting a party or alternate turns within your holiday party circle. Your suggestion will probably be a relief! Potlucks are fun and takes the work off of the hostess.
Food- You can buy slice and bake cookies, and local bakeries are at your disposal for cakes and pies,too.Do you really want to bake and build a gingerbread house? If there are children that want to make something decorative, how about a gumdrop tree instead? You can buy the frame or make one by taking a well shaped branch and putting gum drops on the tips. Time: about twenty minutes of fun and two weeks of pride!
If you are taking a covered dish to a party, choose simple but delicious items such as coated pecans (takes five minutes to prepare) or for a heartier dish, prepare a boxed augratin potato mix , then add chives and pimentoes for a holiday flair.Throw in a can of mushrooms if desired. tastes great and looks appealing. Carry your foods in lovely dishes or trays, and you have nothing to hang your head about.
If you are preparing the holiday meal, delegate! Enlist all the help you can get. Plan a menu that does not involve endless preparation such as chopping,slicing, and special sauces. Make dishes semi-homemade by using store bought items whenever you can.For instance, buy the pie, but add whipped topping before serving.If other offer to bring a favorite dish, graciously accept. (Trust me, this gets easier!)
Family Gatherings- See above for food ideas . Don't try to micro-manage the day. Let family members and friends relax after the big meal. Some may want to watch the game. Others may gather to go for a walk. Set up board games after cleaning the table. Have soft relaxing holiday music playing nearby the game table.Leave out the candy.What do you want to do now?
Take Time to Think About Other Things
No matter how much you try to simplify and trim expenses, sometimes all the hurry and scurry leaves you agitated and stressed.
This is when you find quiet time. If you can't find a place in your home, go for a walk or to the library. Think about other things. After the holiday is overwhat would you like to do? Maybe you've been thinking of taking up a new hobby. Think about it. Let your mind go other places.
Find Time to Exercise to Relieve Holiday Stress!
Simplify Your Holidays
Are you planning to simplify your next holiday?See results without voting
Here's to a Relaxing Holiday
Set Out Some Games
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