If buying the perfect gift that’s likely out of your budget, baking an exquisite dessert that can could compete with those made by Martha Stewart, attending drunk Uncle’s holiday party, decorating your home to look like a photo straight out of Town and Country magazine, all while managing your usual daily responsibilities leaves you feeling overwhelmed, you aren’t alone. Stress, anxiety, and depression can crush your holiday spirit and be detrimental to your physical and mental health. Here are some practical tips to help you fend off the holiday blues:
1. Just Say No.
I recently heard a quote that is my new favorite: By saying yes to one thing, you’re saying no to something else. I tried to find the original author, but it appears that many people are taking credit for this brilliant thought. By agreeing to participate in a 3rd Secret Santa, are you taking an hour away from snuggle time with your kids or giving Fido his much-needed bath? I know that it can be hard to say no and even harder to rescind an offer once you agreed to do something. However, learning to say no can prevent burnout or even resentment. If you’re unsure, it’s okay to ask for time to think about it. You can also negotiate and make an offer that’s do-able for you. For example, “Susie, I do not have time to bake a dessert, but I would be happy to pick up a cake from the grocery store. Would you like for me to do that?” And if you just don’t want to do something, you could say, “Thanks for asking, but I do not have the time” or “I’m not available to help out this year.” Remember, there are only 24 hours in the day; how do you want to spend your 24 hours?
2. Don’t Neglect Self-care.
Self-care isn’t just about pedicures and massages. Self-care is anything you do to “fill up your gas tank.” Daily tasks require gas from our human (emotional and physical) gas tank. Like a car, if you don’t refuel, you’ll stall out. Self-care is subjective. What you do to refuel could be very different from what I do. And self-care doesn’t have to cost money. A long walk, a nap, or reading a book are forms of self-care. Self-care is also about what you do not do. Saying no and setting boundaries are a form of self-care (See above).
3. Set Realistic Expectations.
Pinterest can be great for ideas, but you probably don’t have time to arm-knit chunky blankets for twenty of your closest friends. Be kind to yourself. Don’t strive for perfection. Things will go wrong. You’ll run out of time. And then…it’ll all be over. Don’t let your goal of perfection take away from your experiences with family and friends.
4. Avoid Overspending.
Set a budget and stick to it. Suggest a family or office gift exchange to decrease the number of gifts you have to purchase. Better yet, give gifts from the heart like baked goods delivered on a re-usable platter or a “coupon” for your neighbor to walk her dog.
The holidays aren’t merry for all. If you’re missing a loved one or just feeling like Scrooge, allow yourself to experience those emotions. But don’t isolate.
Seek professional help if needed. You aren’t alone if you need extra support during this time of year.