The holidays should be a time for relaxation and rejuvenation. An opportunity to reflect on the year gone by and prepare for the new one to come, while enjoying special quality time with friends and family. Why then do so many of us fill with dread and anxiety at the thought of December rolling around again?
Many people find that the holiday season brings as much stress as it does joy. All the family gatherings and social occasions, although fun, can start to feel overwhelming, particularly if the brunt of the planning and organising is left up to you. Women are especially prone to feeling the holiday stress, as traditionally most of the planning, shopping, cooking, decorating and coordinating is left up to us.
This year, why not try practising a few new traditions, one’s that will help keep the holiday stress at bay and allow you the space to really enjoy all the fun and festivities! Here are our top four ways to create a stress-free December.
1. Dream big.
The first step is figuring out what type of December holiday you want. Perhaps you’re a social person and want to make the most of the opportunity to see people and spend time with the ones you love? Do you love cooking for people and hosting them in your space? Or do you simply want to carve out some time for yourself, where you can recharge your batteries for the new year ahead? Whatever your ideal holiday, make sure you spend time reflecting on what it is, to avoid being swept up in the busyness of the season and other people’s plans.
2. Create your ideal holiday.
Now that you know what type of holiday that you want, it’s time to figure out which activities fit into your vision. Reflect on what normally happens in December. What sort of activities tend to fill up your time or add extra stress to your life? What are the activities you do because you truly want to, and not because you feel obligated to do? What has worked (and not worked) for previous holidays? What are your best memories from holidays past, and what events were the most draining? Use your answers to help make healthy choices and important changes to reduce the amount of stress this year. If your new choices will affect your family and friends, make sure you speak to them about it now before they set schedules or make any plans on your behalf. Remember that you aren’t obligated to accept every invitation you get. Think about which ones you'll enjoy and then graciously decline the rest.
3. Plan ahead.
Sticking to a timetable can make the holidays a lot less chaotic. Plus, having a plan laid out in front of you of how you are going to achieve everything you want to in the time you have, will help lessen the feeling of last-minute stress that can easily crop up. Once you know the activities you will be doing this December, put them all into your diary. Now look at your schedule and ask yourself if it makes you feel like this will be your best December. If not, go back and change it until you feel truly excited for the month to come.
4. Get started early.
Leaving things to the last minute is a sure-fire way to take the fun out of any task. Don’t leave things for later that can be done now. Plan the dinners you will be hosting, organise your gift list, shop early (and online), and prepare your holiday cards in advance so they’re ready to be mailed. By tackling your list of things to do early, you can help remove stress and more importantly, make sure you end up using your time the way you want to when the holidays do roll around.
HANNA GIRLING, wife, mother, business owner, mindset coach, sport enthusiast and forever an optimist.