I went to two parties last night. I still have three tonight and one tomorrow night. I haven’t decorated yet, and I need to because family is coming in over the weekend. I haven’t even started shopping yet. The kids are coming in four days to bake cookies and pies. School plays and performances are coming up next weekend. These are the type of thoughts going around during the holidays. Many of my patients are struggling right now with their “to do” holiday list and, although they know the holiday season is suppose to be a time of joy and reflection, they don’t have time for either.
If you are feeling like you can’t find enough hours in the day to enjoy the holidays, maybe it’s time to re-think and re-write your “to do” list. Maybe it’s time to add you on that holiday list of things. It is impossible to enjoy the festivities if you are burnt out before they begin.
A new and improved “To-Do” list.
1. Be realistic. We all enjoy beautiful table settings and perfect gift wrapping, but nothing is perfect. Expecting perfection is the leading cause of burn out. Make it your year to be good enough.
2. Let go of a task when you don’t have time to complete it. If you find yourself behind in accomplishing one of your tasks during the holidays, let it go and jump ahead to the next task. Baking Christmas cookies is great fun, and everyone enjoys doing it. However…it’s the talking and connecting while baking that makes it enjoyable. Buy the dough this year and connect while decorating. This saves time. No, they won’t be as good, but the laughs and companionship make the memories, not the taste of cookies.
3. If you have difficult families coming in to visit, prepare short escapes. For example, plan ahead to meet up with your best friend for coffee and venting. This helps you feel less trapped, and you may find yourself more open to understanding your difficult family members.
4. Learn to say no. If there are too many parties and you begin feeling dread instead of excitement, you are spreading yourself to thin. Better to say no to a couple of parties and enjoy the ones you do attend.
5. If you feel lonely or isolated this time of year (many do so you aren’t alone) make a point to begin a volunteer activity. There are so many great ways to give back this time of year and the greatest thing about giving back is you are surrounded by other “givers”. There is nothing more inspiring than to surround yourself with people who enjoy giving or doing for others.
6. Healthy habits are important all year long. This time of year they are paramount because most of us consume double our normal sugar foods during the holiday season. Take at least 20 minutes each day for “movement” (note I did not say exercise). You will feel better, think better and relieve your anxiety/depression.