I've received several emails in the past couple of weeks aimed at helping me de-stress for the holidays, like "Six tips for heading off holiday fatigue" and "Ten Holiday Survival Tips", etc. Invariably, the number one suggestion on these lists is to "make a plan." So a few days ago I sat down and made a list of everything I want and/or need to do in December. All I can say is,
HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!! PANIC ATTACK!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, on to the next suggestions, "Be realistic," and "Don't be afraid to say no."
It's normal for me to get close to a deadline (and Christmas is definitely a deadline looming large on the horizon) and start looking for things I can "not do" on my list, but here I am a month out and I'm already at that point. So before I can go any further on my to-do list, I must
...slowly, through my nose, inhale, exhale...
Okay. Now that I'm thinking more clearly, here are some things that I think will help me get through the next month:
Pick one or two outside functions to attend and say no to the rest. We're taking the local grandkids to The Nutcracker (I bought a block of seats so I can be surrounded by unscented family), and I'd like to take a nighttime drive to see the lights, but I'll skip the church Nativity display, the community Festival of Trees and the symphony's rendition of The Messiah (I really hate missing this, but they do it in the Catholic cathedral, which is very small and no where to escape).
Plan shopping trips to be early morning, mid-week and short, and shop online as much as possible. Actually, I have most of my shopping done, so I can breathe on that one.
Stick to a budget. Ahhhh, this is a hard one for me. I see so many things I want to get for the great people I love.
Stick to a regular routine of eating and sleeping. This is a hard one too. It's oh so tempting to stretch the hours in the day or skip a meal while out shopping. But for me, this is probably the MOST important thing I can do to stay healthy.
Buck tradition. Nowhere is it written in stone that you must have a full turkey dinner for Thanksgiving (we're having chicken) or make homemade goodies or ornaments for everyone you know. And, as I discovered last year, the etiquette fairies will not put an eternal curse on you if you don't handwrite the addresses on your Christmas cards (or don't send them at all). I actually really enjoy sending and receiving cards, so this is one thing I'm not ready to give up yet, but my arthritic hands simply can't survive the handwriting. So printed labels save the day. The only reason we still put up a Christmas tree is because the grandkids enjoy it so much, so I have them come over and decorate it for me and also take it down after Christmas. Why should I do all the work?
Which leads me to the last suggestion: Let others help. I have a hard time with this one sometimes too. There are some end-of-the year things that are easier to do myself, like updating business records (ready for taxes) and writing the family Christmas letter, but I'm sure there are things that others could do just as well. Or, better yet, could be left undone.
Any other ideas for reducing the December stress load? I need all the help I can get.