Some people seem to thrive on the chaos of the holidays, soaking up all the hustle and bustle, the parties and the planning, the shopping, the decorating and all the other things on their “to-do” lists. For others, however, just the anticipation of the holidays can feel very stressful and overwhelming. Rather than feeling joyous, the holidays begin to feel more like an obligation and a chore.
Instead of falling into the trap of all the turmoil and frustration this year, take a deep breath and read on for some specific ways you can simplify your holiday season with intention and alleviate a lot of stress.
Adjust your expectations
Taking the step to adjust your expectations and perspective goes a long way in simplifying the holidays.
There’s no need to produce a Pinterest perfect holiday season that will leave you feeling exhausted. Keep things realistic and think about what’s most important to you and your family. What the people you love will remember is not the way everything looked or how many kinds of cookies you baked…or even if the house was expertly decorated. They will remember the time spent together talking, laughing and enjoying each other. They will remember sharing meals together whether it be a cheese board, or a feast fit for a king. If you love to bake…bake! If you love to prepare holiday meals…. go to town in the kitchen. If decorating is your passion…go crazy! However, if these are not your favorite things, there are many places you can purchase fully prepared meals and baked goods. The house will look wonderful with just a few well-placed decorations. Let yourself off the hook this year if the stress of decorating or cooking is causing you to lose your motivation to do any of it.
Keep your focus on gratitude
Remembering to stay grateful and in the moment can go a long way to keep your perspective positive during the holidays. Take time to notice and appreciate the simple joys going on around you. This may be having special family and friends coming together, sitting by the fire, and watching a favorite holiday movie, taking time to enjoy a special family holiday tradition or anything that makes you feel comforted and at peace.
Remember that your and your family’s holiday memories won’t likely be about what gifts were exchanged or how big the tree was. What you will remember and be most grateful for is the time you all spent together doing things you love to do. Will there be a family board game night, a holiday movie marathon, a drive through town to look at who has the best decorations, roasting marshmallows by the fire, or maybe a gingerbread house building contest? What memories would you like to make this year? Keep your eyes and your heart open to notice and feel grateful for all these precious times together.
Know what you don’t need to stress about
To keep things simple, it’s important to know what your priorities are. And even more specifically, what you absolutely choose not to do this holiday season and not to stress about. Having clarity on these things will give you guidelines to refer to if you start to feel anxious or pressured about a holiday activity you’re not sure is important to you. Being intentional about simplifying how you spend your time involves accepting that you can’t do everything! You need to pick what is most important to you, focus on those things, then let the rest go. This may mean that you miss the neighborhood party in favor of spending more time with a kid who just returned home from college. It may mean that you decide not to travel a long distance this year because that’s just too draining. Only you know what your biggest priorities will be.
When all is said and done, you will be glad you let go of the unrealistic idea of a “perfect” holiday season. Perfection doesn’t exist anywhere! If you can shift your perspective to focus on the priorities you have chosen, you will find that the holiday season can be simple, joyous, and memorable in a way it may not have been before.