For some of us the holidays are the best time of year because of celebrations, family, and friends. For others, it's the worst time of year because of celebrations, family, and friends. Why the disparity? Stress and pressure.
I'm here to say that you can reduce that stress and pressure with the right mental attitude and a few practical tips. The bottom line is this: be your best friend, take care of yourself first, and feel OK about it. This is critical so I'm going to say it again: "...and feel OK about it." That may mean protecting yourself and that, my friends, can take courage. If you don't protect yourself, who will?
Here are some ideas:
1. LET SOMEONE ELSE DO IT. Maybe you want to have a party and invite your friends and family. Sending invitations, cleaning, shopping, cooking, cleaning (I know I put “cleaning” in there twice!)… That’s a lot of work; are you sure you’re up to it? Even more important, are you sure you’ll be up to it when the time comes? You may feel great today and send out the invites, but are you sure you’ll be able to deliver? Don’t put yourself under so much pressure. If you ask me (and you didn’t) I suggest that you either a) let someone else host this year’s party, b) ask for help to put on the party you simply must have, c) invite fewer people to reduce the amount of work, or d) both b) and c). Protect yourself. People will understand; if they don’t then it’s their problem. Again, they’ll get over it. Protect yourself and feel OK about it!
2. SIMPLIFY YOUR HOLIDAY SHOPPING. Some people love holiday shopping and seeing all of the decorations and goodies and the kids with Santa Claus and so on. If you’re not one of them, then read on. I’m not going to suggest that you should pass on getting gifts, but I AM going to suggest that you get gifts that are easier to buy. For example, you can get gift cards for just about anything and you can get them just about anywhere. Our supermarket has an entire rack of them: home improvement stores, restaurant chains, movies, even Amazon.com! If you haven’t seen them they look, feel, and work just like credit cards. They are “pre-loaded” with a certain amount of money and they can be used just like cash. And, there is no extra cost for the convenience because a $50 gift card, for example, will cost you $50 and can be used just like cash to buy $50 of goods and services. How easy is that? You can do all of your holiday shopping when you’re buying your canned sardines!
Don’t like the gift card idea? Shop on the Internet. C’mon, I know you have access or you wouldn’t be able to read this! Most major retailers have web sites that allow you to shop, order, and pay for your gifts right from home. They’ll even ship them directly to the recipient, gift wrap them, and put in a gift card too! Many people think that it isn’t safe to shop online - they are simply wrong. If you shop at reputable websites and take proper precautions (don’t use public computers, have good passwords, and so on) your credit card information will be perfectly secure, probably even safer than it is when a restaurant server disappears with your card and then comes back with the charge slip for you to sign!
This post is one of a series on simple ways to reduce stress. Laughter is the most important way but is also hardest to do when you’re stressed.