What the title says. OH MY! In a year where all the days run together and become a blur, the holidays have caught me a little by surprise. Normally I love surprises but this one feels a little overwhelming.
I’m a lover of the holidays. Throwing parties is my speciality and low key what keeps me going. Getting a big group of friends (new and old) together to play games, share stories and make memories. Even things like going to church and volunteering with food drives are activities that I do this time of year that fill my heart with joy.
From Halloween through New Years, my house is fully decorated, scented, and on the move! Got to stay on the move to avoid all that holiday weight. The combination of delicious treats and stress will really pack them on.
There are a couple sure fire ways to make the holidays stressful and I’m pretty good at avoiding the typical stressors, but surprises happen. I think the biggest surprise this year- at least for a lot of us – has been the fact that this pandemic mess is still going on.
Some people have basically resumed their life to normal but in my house we are definitely still playing it safe. I’m technically immunocompromised. On top of some asthma paired with tiny lungs, I’m pregnant. I would never be able to forgive myself if I gave my baby COVID-19 in utero or inhibited his lung development in anyway. Plus, I’m big on athletics so if my lungs end up damaged long-term I’d be suffering pretty frequently. You ever heard of post-covid syndrome? It’s becoming pretty common for young adults who contract COVID-19, even when they don’t show symptoms the first time around. With my asthmatic history it’s pretty much a given that would happen to me. So that’s the long-ish explanation as to why we are remaining extra careful.
What does extra careful mean now that most things have resumed? It means when our friends go fly somewhere, we don’t see them afterwards for two weeks. Did too many people RSVP to the party? We don’t go or only drop by to say, “Hi.” Is a place crowded? We leave. And of course, we are huge believers in wearing masks.
It probably sounds like we are hermits! I still get out. We went to the pumpkin patch nice and early and saw NO ONE when we did the corn maze and have one or two friends over at a time for game nights. Plus, we are already plenty busy around the house trying to prep for this baby’s arrival! Lots of DIY remodels that take wayyyy longer than you think- or than my husband thinks.
Unfortunately this pandemic probably won’t be the only surprise around the holidays. It’s inevitable. An expense that you weren’t expecting hits right around Christmas, a family member gets sick or maybe you burn the whole Thanksgiving dinner! They will happen and the best way to deal with is to be prepared for the unexpected and manage that stress in a healthy way.
First tip, be flexible! Around the holidays I always leave an hour or two open in the day. I do that so when a little surprise happens, it doesn’t throw my whole day into a frenzy.
Sometimes being flexible isn’t about the time however. It’s about the attitude. Carry a flexible attitude with you throughout the day. One way to do that is not hold so many expectations. Don’t use your imagination to assume things. Communicate what you want/what you expect and ask others the questions on your mind instead of assuming an answer. The holidays are made dramatically easier with some solid communication.
While those are some ways to avoid the stress of the holidays, I think we all knows it’s never completely avoidable. You need to come up with some holiday coping mechanisms. These will be personal to you and I always find the best ones are those that help you not only deal with the stress but embrace the holiday at the same time!
For me, this means arts and crafts for each season. My favorite part about this isn’t the creative stimulation but the fact that they end up doubling as great Christmas gifts. I’ve recently been getting into watercolors so I’ve got a nice stockpile of nice paintings and portraits I can wrap up in a couple months. The crafts have saved my sanity and will save my wallet around Christmas.
You got to find what works for you though. Maybe it’s turning on holiday music in the car, lighting scented candles, or going to holiday themed events. Make the time to do the things that relieve stress and you’ll be able to deal with the holiday hiccups with grace.
Time is such a weird concept. There is never enough of it, we say. Not enough hours in the day to get everything done. But the funny thing is, when I force time to do something relaxing… I somehow still get everything done. It’s made me think working in a frenzy doesn’t actually make you get everything done any quicker. Flowing through your day weirdly enough, helps you get the most out of your day. So just try it.
Another key I want to mention for getting through these next few months is prioritizing and the ability to say, “no.” Not everything is a must- even if it REALLY seems like it. If going to that after work happy hour is causing you more stress than you can handle, just say no. Too many holiday parties and you need a weekend off? It’s OK to skip.
I like to start each day by prioritizing my daily tasks. I literally write everything down and decide what needs to get done and in what order. At the bottom of the list are things that I can drop if I don’t find the time and move them to the next day. The next day, they will be higher on the list. Doing this has made me so much more organized and helped bring the flow into my day.
So yes, the holidays are different this year. But are they THAT different? You still have to shop, make a holiday dinner or five, accommodate family (whether you get to see them this year or not,) and try to make some memories. While they are different, they are still the same and I think we can find some stable ground in remembering that.
I truly wish all of you the best of holidays. It’s a year to get creative with your celebrations and maybe break some traditions to make room for new ones. Be flexible, embrace the new and take care of yourself,