A few years ago I read a story that gave me a new perspective on the holiday season. In this tale, a fictional town was experiencing the worst yuletide in its history because all the female residents were on strike. This reminded me that, often, women are the foundations, the unsung heroes, of the holiday season.
For many us, the non-fictional holiday story goes like this: Every year, we promise to get a better grip on the holidays but, somehow, we always get caught up in the stress of the season.
No wonder we get tense at this time of the year. We have a lot to do. In the midst of planning parties, meeting year-end deadlines, making travel arrangements, attending school concerts, baking cookies, buying presents, and doing a multitude of other tasks, we want to be composed, have fun, and not gain weight.
Follow this stress-prevention plan to experience a festive rather than frazzled season.
1. Identify stress-relief tools. It's easy to become so preoccupied with taking care of the daily urgencies of the season -- the cooking, the visiting, the organizing -- that no space, time, or energy is left for you. When your needs and self-care fall to the bottom of your list, this is a one-way ticket to a tired, cranky, impatient you.
The best gift you can give your family and yourself this season is a healthy, happy you. The secret to making this happen is to give yourself permission to put the quality of your own life at the top of your holiday wish list. To do so, identify three holiday stress-relief tools you can use to take better care of you, such as taking a bath, practicing meditation, going out for a walk, reading your favorite book, renting a video, sleeping in, or performing breathing exercises.
Write these ideas down and when you feel like you are reaching the edge, make a pledge to engage in one or all three stress-relieving activities.
2. Ask for help. Asking for help can be extremely difficult. But if you don't request assistance during the holidays, you may find yourself at your wit's end. If you think you need to do it all, think again.
Acknowledge that support will ease your load and make things happen faster. Just becoming aware that you could use some assistance and getting comfortable asking for it can be the toughest part. But once you get over your inhibitions about seeking support, you'll find that folks really want to help you in your efforts to create a wonderful holiday season.
Resist the temptation to go it alone or take on more than you can reasonably do. Draft a list of activities you want to commit to this season (nothing more) and write the names of the people you'd like to help out. Then start making calls.