Managing the stress of the holiday season can seem like an insurmountable feat. Family to entertain, travel to arrange, care for the kids when school is off and work deadlines to meet. Throw in shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating or any of the other unplanned occurrences (like one of the kids or you catching a cold or unexpected financial challenge), and you’re just about to wave a white flag and crawl under the covers for a long winter’s nap.
Let’s talk about expectations. The holiday season is full of smiling faces, warm hugs, cozy nights by the fireplace, and lots of love and joy. Or at least that’s what all the TV commercials and shopping catalogues want us to think, and admire, and strive for, right?
The things is, when you’re constantly working to fit real life into something that is staged, with people who are in no way related to each other, and there’s hair and make up and wardrobe people keeping them looking perfect, you’re never ever going to feel like you’ve got it all right.
Every time you start to hear that voice in your head saying, “This isn’t good enough,” that’s a sign that it’s time to stop whatever you’re doing and slow down for a minute. Make a cup of tea, light your favorite scented candle, sit down for five minutes, and write down three things you want most to FEEL during the holiday season. Not items you want or how you want other people to see you, how YOU want to feel.
Do you want to feel loved? Relaxed? Excitement? Safe? Then ask yourself if the things you’re doing are steps to create that feeling.
For goodness sake, don’t bake cookies for the whole block, buy presents for every teacher at the school, or stamp your own wrapping paper unless it brings you true joy. Don’t do anything because Aunt Tilly will expect you to, or the other mom’s at school are doing it, or even because it’s on your to-do list.
Be mindful of what you’re doing and why. Your holiday season can be a lot less stressful with a little mindfulness and a lot of self-love. Keep a keen eye on reality, and remember, perfection is an illusion, even if your mother-in-law disagrees.