Many people look forward to the “holiday season,” the time between Halloween and New Year’s Day when we celebrate holidays and the end of the year with family and friends. Many holiday traditions include get-togethers over food and the exchange of presents. The number of social engagements and need to purchase holiday gifts often leaves people feeling overwhelmed and tired as we wrap up one year and enter a new one. While our to-do list may be a little longer this time of year, there are things we can do manage our schedule and have more fun and less stress. Here are four strategies for staying on top of the holiday season rush.
Make a plan. Whether you’re on top of your shopping and cooking or a perennial procrastinator, having a plan can make your task list more manageable during the holiday season. Write out a tentative schedule for gift buying, cooking, and other holiday preparation based on party invites and your celebration schedule. This can be a flexible plan that you review every week. If you are a “wait until the last minute” person, embrace it and plan for how you’ll tackle last-minute shopping ahead of time. Writing down a list, checking to-do items off and reviewing as necessary will help make the busyness of the holiday season seem more manageable.
Make priorities and say no. Since the holiday season is also known as the season of giving, people pleasing becomes even harder to avoid. There is nothing wrong with prioritizing event and responsibilities so that you are spending time on the events and gatherings that are most important to you. Declining invites or modifying your schedule to make time for extra demands can make a world of difference when trying to manage a busy holiday schedule.
Remember the purpose. It’s very easy to get caught up in the “tasks” of the holiday season and forget “the why.” Many holidays and faith traditions that are celebrated at this time of year focus on themes of gratitude, togetherness, and community. Make sure that the “tasks” of the season align with your values and purpose for celebrating. Remembering the purpose can make your to-do list much more meaningful and enjoyable to complete. Considering the “reason for the season” can also provide a different perspective when you’re around a tense family dinner table due to heating discussions about the goings-on of the world. Going about your day with a little more kindness in your heart will allow you to be a bit more forgiving of yourself and others. It is also a great time of year to reflect on successes of the past year and goals for the next. A little self-reflection can go a long way when trying to manage the stress of the holidays.
Find time to give back. There are people in our community that find the holiday season a little more challenging. Difficulty could stem from a lack of resources, missing loved ones, or dealing with personal issues. Find a way to help a neighbor or your community this season. Volunteer at an organization that has a mission that speaks to you or check-in with a friend that seems a little down. Your support and kindness can change the course of someone’s day.