Holiday Traps

I think for most of us, the holidays can be a big, stressful trap. It doesn’t matter who you are, the holidays have history, hopefully good, sometimes less so. Last year I felt pressure to make grand memories when all I wanted to do was mope and that left me feeling stressed and a little put out, even though it was all of my own making. This year I have consciously chosen to do less for Thanksgiving, and am trying to feel my way towards what works for the rest of this holiday season. And while my mom isn’t far from my thoughts this holiday season, I am trying to make space to feel sad as well as space to take pleasure in what this year has to offer.

How can you make your holiday season less stressful?

Forget perfection. I frequently have a grand vision of what I want for any given event. I feel obligated to take on too much and can lose sight of what are my priorities, in this case, celebrating my family and enjoying each other’s company. Would I like a Martha Stewart Thanksgiving complete with picture perfect table scape and a dozen dishes? Sure. Do I want it even though it would mean cooking for three days, then being too exhausted to enjoy my family? Not this year.

Prioritize. This year, every time I think about what I want for the holidays, it comes back to celebrating what matters to us. Family. Activities that we enjoy together. The grand gestures are great to feed my ego, but my kids don’t care. They want to have family game night, or have a dance party in the living room. They’d rather sit and cuddle, or take a walk instead of watching me cook food they most likely won’t eat (what kid doesn’t like mashed potatoes?!?). Even when they want to help, it lasts at most 20 minutes. This year my priority isn’t cooking, so we are going out to eat.

Ask for help. We all have our own ideas about what makes the holidays perfect and when expectations are high, don’t be reluctant to ask for help. Once you and your family have figured out your priorities, delegate where appropriate, otherwise enlist help in getting everything accomplished.

Sleep. Everything is easier and more fun with enough sleep. Sleep is important all the time, but when things are particularly stressful, it is even more crucial to get enough sleep. It is your body’s way of recharging and keeping your immune system strong.

Everything in Moderation. Holidays inevitably seem to turn into a season of excess. It is so easy to overindulge this time of year because there are so many opportunities to do so. If you are like me and have a hard time saying no to all your favorite treats during the holidays, have one instead of three. You can also build in nights where you can keep it simple. Have chicken soup with some vegetables as a way to offset the rich foods.

Finally, from my family to yours, I hope you have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.

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