Well? Did you get everything under control on Thanksgiving? Pies all baked? Was the turkey cooked properly? Everyone arrive on time? Did you remember the cranberry sauce and the rolls? Now, you start hitting the malls or your computer for shopping; decorating the yard and house; putting up the tree; baking the holiday cookies; sending out cards for Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa; and on and on and on, still... Lack of sleep, grief or loneliness, limited health, shopping - huge stress sources, right? Are you mentally and physically exhausted yet? How about overstimulated? ACK!
Family and cultural traditions, along with expectations (real or imagined), can have a tendency to blow up your stress levels to a frenzied pitch. Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder or the thought of spending way too much time with that rude Uncle Fred could just make you want to junk it all and take a hot bath, true? Stop and take a deep breath! You know me: I'm not one to dwell on the negative, so let's find the hope in this scenario, OK? You are not alone!
How DO we deal with all this? You'd think we'd all be experts at handling the holidays because we do it year after year after year. History will repeat itself until we learn the lesson, eh? Guess we're still learning! So, here are some tips to keep in mind and practice so that maybe, just maybe, as we are launched into the beginning of some wildly hectic weeks, we can set some boundaries, be realistic, instill some good habits and get through it - with smiles on our faces and love in our hearts!
• Maintain a healthy routine and keep practicing your good habits: keep walking; keep going to the gym; get plenty of sleep; be mindful of what all this is about; watch the alcohol and food intake (less pounds gained = easier to get rid of it in the New Year!). Get outside! That always helps me put everything in perspective!
• Be realistic! Nothing is perfect (ever!), so expect the unexpected and try to 'go with the flow.' There should be no 'shoulds!' Be flexible, but do set boundaries and be prepared to 'just say no' (delay your response so you can think about the full ramifications - politely!). You will make yourself ill if you try to please everyone, all the time!
• Practice an Attitude of Gratitude: don't dwell on the negative, especially things you can't change (Maybe turn off the news for the month? Someone will let you know if anything important happens!). Pay attention to enjoying your friends and family and counting your blessings.
• Plan ahead and get organized! (Gee - where'd that come from?!) Make sure your to-do lists are reasonable, with goals you can actually reach (so you can cross them off!). Keep some white space on the calendar because challenges and the unexpected will happen. Allow some time for R&R, too: a good nap can put everything into proper perspective. Set a budget and stick to it - paying for one season of the year during the entire next year is just ___ - you fill in the blank! You, your family and friends can find a lot to do that's even free!
• Practice self-care! This goes with the nap-thing above! Focus on the NOW and be mindful of each moment: breathe; do things just for YOU; always fit in some things that you enjoy! If too much socializing is getting you down, keep your gatherings limited to certain days, certain times and maybe those limitations will help you cope that much better.
• Make sure you're connecting, sharing and caring with others, especially if you are alone, lonely, grieving. No family locally? Find a local church or soup kitchen you can help in while helping others. Such tiny Acts of Kindness will just warm your heart and ease the pain that having to make 'new' traditions might garner. Try to find the proper niche for you at Volunteer Match, for instance.
• Know if/when you might want to seek help from a health care professional. Symptoms lasting for weeks on end and your SAD lamp not really helping? Reach out!
OK, enough of the reminders of what you already know, right? Now, get to all that baking, shopping and decorating - but now with some recollection that all this is supposed to be fun; be a reminder of how blessed we all are; and enjoy these next weeks with joy and peace in your heart and soul!
Providing Peace and Harmony for your Home or Office. Tips on getting organized and staying organized. Cleaning up the clutter in your home or office.