By Sandy Fowler
December is a season of love and light.
But, if your time isn’t managed effectively, it can also become a time filled with holiday stress…
And really, every holiday and every celebration at this time of year is based on similar principles, but those ideals can get lost in busy days and stressful nights.
I’ve been down that path myself. The first Christmas after I married was a doozy. Trying to re-create the Christmas of my youth, one that was packed with wonderful events, charitable giving and lots of socializing, along with the traditions of my husband and his family and adding in our new friends and commitments left me wrung out, exhausted and just plain crabby. That was the first time I really experienced what everyone refers to as holiday stress.
So, I spent the next few years tweaking my holiday time schedule and planning, as well as implementing many special time management techniques to get the season under control. And I did it – I got it under control. But “under control” isn’t what we’re looking for; joyous and heart-warming is what we’re looking for.
Finally, the real solution to my holiday stress showed up a few years later:
After we had children I became frustrated with various aspects of the holiday season and I set out to make some changes. We took out some old traditions, added a few new ones and decided to make some of our Christmas presents. As we played with new ideas I discovered that the real joy came when we focused on what’s most important to us AND when we had enough time to really experience the season, not just race through it.
Each experiment changed not just what we did during the season, but how we felt about it.
Twelve years later we have our own version of a Norman Rockwell Christmas, complete with the accidents and antics you see in Norman Rockwell prints. But we enjoy ourselves, we have fun and we create cherished memories all season long.
Along the way I learned many things and discovered a quick way to not only reduce holiday stress and find more time, but to also add more meaning and more joy to the season overall.
This holiday stress management technique is simple – and all you need is a calendar, a pencil and a big eraser.
1. Begin with a blank calendar. Write in all of your daily activities; work, service hours, committee meetings, book club, family events, kids’ activities and all the other things that go into your daily life.
2. Now add in your favorite parts of the holiday season and the traditions you cherish. Mark off time to get your Christmas tree, pick out Hanukkah presents, decorate your home, attend services, family gatherings and any other activities and traditions you love and cherish.
3. Then mark off time you need to prepare for each of those traditions. If you’re serving a big sit-down dinner you’ll need time to plan, shop, prepare and cook the food. You’ll need time to clean the house and set the table or decorate the room. Pencil that time in on your calendar.
4. Now take a look at your schedule. Chances are there are more things on your calendar than there are hours in the day. This means it’s time to make some choices. Start taking things off until there is room for everything you want to do. I know it’s difficult, even painful to say no to some of these things but the truth is you’ll have to say “No” to some of them anyway. By making the decision now you’ll save yourself a lot of pain, the pain of not finishing your to-do list day after day. You’ll also add joy because you’ll be able to experience the activities that are most important to you, and you’ll have time to enjoy them too.
Keep reviewing your calendar and taking things off until you see there is enough time to do everything you’ve written in as well as some blank space. The blank space will give you breathing room because things just happen in life and we need a little room to maneuver in order to handle it and keep on going. Remember, that blank space is essential to reducing holiday stress!
When you’re done you’ll have a plan for the season.
You’ll know whether you have time to attend the party you were invited to and you’ll have wonderful events to look forward to. You’ll have enough time to do everything you want and that also means you’ll be able to relax and be present during each event and activity; you won’t have to rush through it simply to get to the next item on your to-do list. You’ll have worked a little holiday magic with a simple calendar, a little Calendar Magic.
Do you experience holiday stress? How do you manage it? Share in the comments below!
About the Author: Sandy Fowler is passionate about de-stressing lives. She coaches, writes, speaks and hosts a radio show all focused on weeding out stress and creating more joy. She’s the author of Beyond Eggnog and Mistletoe: Creating a Stress Free Holiday Season You’ll Love, a contributing author to Living the Life of My Dreams, a co-creator of The Keys to Getting What You Want: 4 Little Known Communication Secrets, and the creator of the Calendar Magic coaching program. She’s the host of the weekly radio show, Heart Filled Holidays, which can be heard anywhere there is internet access. For a free stress relief kit, to listen to podcasts of past shows or to work with Sandy visit http://heartfilledholidays.com
You also might like:
Sign up to receive your weekly dose of HAPPINESS, POWER, LOVE, AND SUCCESS
Your weekly updates are the FREE e-power to keep you happy, powerful, and successful!