The real Christmas Miracle a lot of us are looking for is a stress-free holiday season. It’s no mystery that the holidays can be a little overwhelming, and by the time December rolls in full force, levels of anxiety and stress are here. (As in last-minute online gift shopping for your hard-to-impress mother-in-law while burning the Christmas cookies for the kid’s teachers’ gifts stressful.)
What if this year was different?
What if you took charge of the month and created boundaries that not only pushed stress to the curb but let joy take the driver’s seat? The truth is, it’s more than possible. You just need a plan for the different areas of your life!
#1 Budget Boundaries
December is on record as the highest spending month throughout the year due to winter holiday spending. According to Dave Ramsey, American consumers plan to spend an average of $997.79 on holiday purchases this year, which is down from previous years but still a large chunk of change. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with gift shopping, holiday meal plans, social excursions, and other holiday spending opportunities, so create boundaries around your budget for this month. Don’t compare to previous years or what other families may be spending and concentrate on your needs and what you consider “non-negotiables” and stick to it. Don’t allow overspending due to peer pressure that will cause added stress going into the new year.
#2 Calendar Boundaries
Time is always your hottest commodity and it goes so quickly! Look at your calendar for the next few weeks and think about what your top priorities are. Do you want some time to holiday shop by yourself or wrap presents as a family? Are you hoping to visit friends or see the Nutcracker downtown? Create boundaries around your calendar to protect your time and help it go towards the things that matter. Don’t overbook yourself by saying “yes” to every invitation that comes your way or commit to things this month that you don’t wholeheartedly want to do.
#3 Family Boundaries
The holidays are a beautiful time for family gatherings and creating memories with loved ones, but that doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. Schedule things in advance and don’t be afraid to set boundaries around times that are specific to family time. Will you attend the Christmas Eve service at church or volunteer one Saturday at the women’s shelter together? If you have older kids with social calendars of their own, have a family conversation about what dates or times are strictly for the family so you are all on the same page. Make any boundaries known with your extended family, particularly anyone who tends to get a mind of their own during the holidays, such as inlaws.
#4 Work Boundaries
Somehow your boss may start to show an uncanny resemblance to the Grinch come December! Laying out work boundaries can feel intimidating sometimes, but setting expectations and having honest conversations with your manager, coworkers, or employees can help take the overwhelm out of things. Request any vacation or personal time in advance when you can and let them know if you will be inaccessible during those days off. Work for yourself? Prioritize what needs to be completed to allow you to enjoy your holiday moments and perhaps take some things off your plate that can wait until later. Work will always be there, so don’t stress over the nonessential things and shift your concentration to the time of year that will be gone before you know it.
#5 Health Boundaries
Remember that nobody has a crystal ball to your boundaries; you have to let them in on what they are. Your personal, physical, and mental health can be directly impacted by boundary setting and this time of year, acknowledging you have different needs is ok. Be honest about what you need physically and emotionally this month, and try to embrace transparency with these boundaries. If you need more space emotionally due to grief or sadness during the holidays, perhaps certain topics or situations are part of these. If you are physically tired and can’t push the way you used to, let others know you won’t participate in some things or need to approach them differently.
The song lyrics aren’t lying when they say, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year,” so give yourself every opportunity to see the joy that this month can bring! Soak it up by placing boundaries in these areas of your life to make your season truly magical.