10 From GEM:
10 Things You Can Do To Survive The Holiday Season
Halloween was only two days ago, so you might still be in the throes of a candy coma. Shake it off, baby! It’s time to get yourself in gear for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the winter solstice, Festivus, New Year’s—whatever you’re celebrating over the next couple of months. This is a busy time of year, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the worst time of year. With a little planning, patience, and perspective, you can make this holiday season the best one of your life. Read on for 10 things you can do to survive and thrive during the holidays.
1. START PLANNING NOW
Thanksgiving is in less than four weeks. I know—where did the time go? Do you have your plans in order? Even if you’re just spending the day at home with your family and having a standard meal, take a few minutes to at least think about how the day can be great. Do you want some time to yourself? Plan it and let your family know. Will you be shopping on Black Friday? Know which stores you’re going to, what time you’ll head out, and what you plan to buy. Whatever you’re doing this holiday season, you never go wrong if you start with a plan.
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2. EXPECT IMPERFECTION
Despite good intentions and doing everything right, something will go wrong. Murphy’s Law increases by 60% from November through January. That made-up statistic is to remind you that you’ll be doing more than usual, which increases the odds that everything won’t go as planned. Be ready for the unexpected to disrupt your vision of perfection. When small disasters strike—and they will strike—flow with it. Think of yourself as being in the middle of a two-month storm. You can fight it, but you’ll wear yourself out. Instead, let the storm carry you. See where it takes you. With the right perspective, you just might find yourself landing softly and safely in January no worse for the wear.
3. DE-STRESS OFTEN
So, here’s what might be coming up for you: travel, shopping, end-of-year deadlines, family issues, finances, and let’s not forget brutal winter weather. Some people may not be able to spend the holidays with family because of physical and/or emotional distance. The most wonderful time of year can easily become the worst time of year. If you’re not already taking actions in your daily life to relax yourself, start now. Go out and experience the things that bring you comfort and joy.
4. ACCEPT FAMILY MEMBERS
FOR WHO THEY ARE
Your uncle is going to drink a little too much and say and do some embarrassing things. Your sister is going to look down her nose at you because you don’t have the good china. Your hotshot attorney brother will belittle your job at a non-profit. Your partner won’t always lighten the load. Part of surviving the holiday season is understanding that other people weren’t put on earth for the sole purpose of ruining your life—or your holiday experience. You’ll waste precious time and lose a little bit of your soul every time you respond negatively when your family members behave exactly as they always have. Accept them, warts all all, and make a choice to be in control of how you feel and how you behave.
5. SERVE LEFTOVERS
There’s never anything wrong with repeat meals, especially this time of year. If you have a lot going on with meal planning, prepping, and shopping for the holidays, cooking dinner every day on top of everything else will feel burdensome. Instead, cook in batches every few days. If you don’t have a slow cooker, get one and use it. It’s shamefully easy to throw things together in one pot and have dinner hot and ready for you when you arrive home from a full day of shopping.
6. YOUR PRESENCE
IS A PRESENT
Of course you will buy gifts for your loved ones. But, with all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, don’t forget that you yourself are a gift. What better time of year to be of service to others? Whether you share baked goods with neighbors, volunteer at a shelter, or spend time with extended family, you are in a position to bring your best self to the surface and take happiness and kindness with you wherever you go.
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7. IT’S OKAY TO SAY “NO”
You will receive invitations to holiday parties you don’t want to attend. You will be asked to perform favors you don’t have the time or the desire to do. Do not—I repeat, DO NOT—hesitate to say something like, “I won’t be able to [fill in undesirable activity here]. Thank you for thinking of me.” No further explanation is necessary. No need to feel guilty. This is your holiday season to enjoy, and it’s hard to do that if you’ve overfilled your plate in an effort to be nice. Be nice to yourself first and only take on what you can reasonably handle.
8. ASK FOR HELP!
Between cooking, baking, shopping, and decorating, the load can get heavy. Maybe you don’t need help, but you just want to vent your frustrations or you need a sounding board. When you need help, ask for it. It really is just that simple. You might be told “no” (see number 7), but that’s okay. Move on and reconsider your priorities.
9. DO MEANINGFUL THINGS
What makes holidays special are the things we do rather than the things we buy. It’s the activities we share with others that will be remembered for months and years to come. Create new holiday traditions or dust off some old ones. Take your daughter, just the two of you, on an outing she’s been dying to do. Bake cookies with your son. Think up a unique activity to do with your partner. It is our relationships with people that should always come first.
10. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
You have blessings and fortune. We all do. When the going gets rough, reflect on everything good and wonderful in your life. Make a list if you need to. Find something to appreciate and fill your heart with it. Wake up in the morning with appreciation and go to bed with more appreciation. You will find that gratitude lightens your mood and changes your perspective so that you can go through your holiday season in high spirits.
What are you doing to survive the holidays? Share your techniques and tips below.
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Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is a writer, a work at home mother, and a new business owner. Read more about Alexis on her blog www.lilliebelle.org, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5.