The holiday season is overwhelming for many women.
It is not unusual for some women to feel anxious, even depressed, when faced with the demands of the season.
So, how can you (and all of us!) take responsibility for replacing anxiety with calmness?
Let’s understand where the anxiety and overwhelmedness comes from.
The first place is the master checklist. After all, we’re the ones primarily responsible for the décor, gift buying (not to mention the gift deciding!), scheduling of gatherings, ensuring no one is forgotten, making the travel arrangements, wrapping the gifts, scheduling the holiday card photo, addressing and mailing the cards, hosting overnight guests, creating the meal plan, cooking the dinner, setting the table for dinner, making the cookies, buying the teacher gifts. Shall I go on?
Whew! No wonder we’re not calm.
The overwhelmedness of the master to-do list is one thing that can mess around with our calmness. Managing family dynamics is another. There are so many reasons family dynamics can add stress and anxiety: family members don’t get along, perhaps you don’t have family nearby, maybe your family is extremely small, or you may have family members you simply don’t like all that much. All of these things can add up to create anxiety, even sadness.
What are you to do?
Be mindful of every single thing you choose to do over the holidays, as well as the things you choose not to do. Go into the season with a commitment to calmness. Let’s look at five ideas!
Five Ideas to Foster Calmness During The Holidays
1. Go easy on decorating.
The idea of “putting out Christmas” starts to create anxiety for me in November. With an already-over-scheduled calendar, I sit and envision all of the Christmas crates in the basement. The annual practice of putting away the standard home décor and swapping it out, well it’s just not my favorite thing to do.
A few years ago, I gave away about 75% of the Christmas trappings. Instead, I put out a minimal number of Christmas accent pieces, then I go to the store and buy approximately 12 poinsettias. I fill the house with these beautiful red flowers and enjoy the festive décor for the month of Christmas.
2. Stop competing.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. And no one is judging you. Do what works for you. For example, every year, I enjoy the beautiful Christmas cards that arrive in our home, but I don’t join in. The tradition of Christmas cards is an overwhelming assignment, one that I’ve chosen not to add to my list. Meanwhile, I appreciate that Facebook and Instagram allow me to keep our evolving family in front of our friends and family.
3. Shorten your gift-giving list.
This. Is. Too. Much. Now, I don’t want to rob you of the joy of giving. If you truly love the length of your list, and you don’t experience anxiety, go for it! More and more, however, I am hearing a similar sentiment: “I’m tired of the focus on gifts. I just want to enjoy my family and friends.” Where can you cut back?
Another idea that I’ve been playing around with. During the year, I have been sending “just because” gifts to nieces, nephews, and important people in my life. During the Christmas season, then, I focus on enjoying my time with them. In the flurry of tearing open so many gifts, the sentiment often is lost in the quantity.
One more idea: I have a daughter who has chosen to skip Christmas. For two consecutive years, she has booked vacations over Christmas. This is her stay-calm strategy. She intends to do this until she starts a family. I applaud her.
4. Don’t over schedule.
With so many gatherings, especially over the month of December, accept that you don’t have to be at everything. You might try establishing a limit for yourself: two events during the week and one on the weekends.
What about the evenings where you have three places to be? You can decide if you want to run around and swoop in to three different places like a crazed woman or select one, settle in and enjoy the friendship and conversation.
I host a women’s gathering every year. And every year, some women on the list can attend, and some can’t. The ones who are unable to attend this year, well, they come next year.
Take care of yourself. There is always next year.
5. Remember….friends are family.
For a host of reasons, women struggle with relationships and connectedness over the holidays. Some women, because they have so little family nearby (or at all), others because important family members are not available. And still others, because of tension in relationships.
Years ago, after my divorce, I did not have my kids on Christmas Day. After a few lonely Christmases, I decided that I could also enjoy the day with friends. Now that all of our children are adults and in significant relationships, we have to share them with others during Christmas. My husband and I have a firm ‘no-pressure’ rule during the holidays. The kids know we welcome every opportunity to be with them, yet there is no pressure from us as they begin to put their schedule together for where they have to be when. Lots of demands!
To account for our reality that we are alone every Christmas day (Christmas Eve is our time with the kids), my husband and I host a gathering each year on Christmas evening called “The Gathering of the Misfits.” A wonderful resolution to what might otherwise “feel” like a lonely day.
Have a wonderful holiday season. Stay calm. 😉
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