Last week at work, I attended a healthy potluck lunch that a couple of my wellness committee members organized. Over this potluck lunch, my friend Mary led both a guided meditation and a discussion on holiday stress. It was actually a really nice hour away from deadlines and my work to do list to just breathe and chit-chat with co-workers about some of the most common things that stress us out at this time of year.
The discussion on holiday stressors went in a few different directions. The parents in the group talked about getting all the wrapping done without their kids knowing and the stress of living up to what all the other kids are getting for Christmas this year. Others mentioned their holiday cards not arriving on time, feeling like there is no time to disconnect, and having too much shopping left to do. We touched upon party prepping, all the work that needs to be finished up before the end of the year, and feeling like we just can’t say no if invited to too many events. Overall, it was clear that most of us feel that we just have too much stress and too much to do!
The thing about stress, is that when it comes down to it, we so often are our own worst enemies. And over-analyzing and harping on how stressed we are? It just makes our stress worse.
I have always been beyond guilty of this. Always talking about how BUSY I am and how much there is to do. I actually think that somewhere along the line it just became second nature for society to say “I’m so stressed” without even thinking about it! It’s like it’s the norm to just be stressed out about something, and if you aren’t overwhelmed, there’s something wrong with you.
Being a perfectionist really doesn’t help much in this area, as we tend to get so attached to a situation’s outcome that anything that comes up to deviate us from said outcome can often feel like the worst thing in the world. STRESS!
Maybe I’m not in any place to dish out any advice about this topic, but I feel as though I’ve made some strides in getting better about managing my stress and not being so hard on myself in the last year or so. And today I want to share a couple of small actions I’m proud of that helped keep my stress at bay this holiday season.
- I did not send out any holiday cards. I was still working on my wedding thank you cards throughout most of December, and it just felt like too much for me to write and send both. Once I convinced myself that it would be okay to eliminate holiday cards from my plate and that my friends and family would understand, I seriously felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. The only person holding me to the standard of sending a holiday card was myself. Plus, nobody wants me and Tim’s faces on their fridge this many times in one calendar year. 😉
- We declined two of the parties that we were invited to this season. One was during the weekend that we take our annual overnight up to Portsmouth and had already booked a hotel for, so that one was a little easier to say no to. However, last weekend, we were invited to four parties all together. Going to three was already going to be a lot, and I knew it would just be overboard to try to attend two on Saturday night. Since I was able to connect with many of my co-workers at our big group party the previous weekend and during our holiday lunch, I declined this event. And guess what? The hostess understood and doesn’t hate me. At least I don’t think she does!
- For the party last Friday with my gym friends, we had a Yankee swap where the theme was to bring a gift that you shopped local for. I left my shopping until the last-minute for this one, but I had big plans to pick out something girly and cute from my favorite local shop in Belmont, put it with a $5 gift card to my favorite little bakery, and also throw in a foodie item from my favorite gourmet specialty food and wine place. The theme was going to be Samples of Belmont, and it was going to be SO PERFECT. When I got to the first shop on Thursday night, it was closed. GAH! I feel like the old me would have freaked out about NEEDING to stick to my original plan, therefore making the next day way more stressful for myself than necessary. That Friday I had to work in the office and teach spin after work before the gym party, so I just had to come up with a Plan B and move on. I put together a foodie themed basket all from the third store, and it was a great swap gift.
- As a blogger, sometimes I let myself fall victim to the comparison trap when it comes to food. People always expect that Tim and I are going to bring a top-notch dish, and I put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself to always come up with something new to bring to parties that we haven’t made in the past. This year I decided that I was spending too much time pouring over recipes online and that I could save so much time by just making things that were easy and familiar. This holiday season has been the year of the repeats. I brought pesto stuffed tomatoes for three different events, pita Christmas trees for the third year in a row to another, and guess what? It’s OKAY, and everything still looked festive and tasted great.
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I know that none of these items are earth shattering, but each decreased my stress levels in their own way. They are steps in the right direction for not being so hard on myself and realizing that not everything always has to be perfect. That said, in the final days before all the holiday celebrations ensue, I hope that you can think of this post if you feel yourself starting to get stressed out. It doesn’t matter if the shower on the second floor of your house that literally zero guests will see is perfectly clean. It doesn’t matter if the food doesn’t get set out at exactly the right time if things are running a little behind schedule. It’s okay if you skip more workouts than usual right now. It’s okay to accept help from others. Isn’t your own sanity more important?
Happy holidays, my friends! Hope you can practice being mindful and simply enjoy being present with your friends and families. <3
Let’s chat! Do you let holiday stress get the best of you? What steps have you taken this holiday season to make things easier on yourself? Do you have any stress reducing strategies that you’d like to share with others?
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The Holiday Hustle Challenge is designed to help each of us focus on self care, slowing down, and overall wellness during the holiday season. The goal is to keep health as simple and stress free as possible during this often chaotic and emotionally charged time of year.
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- Weekly 20 minute or less workouts via video that only require bodyweight and/or a pair of dumbbells
- Weekly emails focusing on strategies for stressing less and making time for you
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- Closed Facebook group for community support and accountability
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I feel like this is the first year in many that I am not overwhelmed. Maybe it was the meditation I did during the potluck lunch 🙂 Thanks for posting pictures of some easy apps, I have some extra cucumbers and I am going to make those cucumber appetizers! Merry Christmas!
Hi Dawn, I’m glad you had a season with less stress than normal! How did the cucumber appetizers come out? I followed a recipe that I found on Two Peas and Their Pod blog!
This was probably my least stressed Christmas season and it’s because I have learned the power of saying NO and meaning it and not feeling like I need to justify my no answer. It’s been freeing and so relaxing!
Hi Jen! You are so right about how freeing it is to just say no… ESPECIALLY without having to justify yourself. Just saying no… and this is why… the truth! It’s amazing! Happy New Year!