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4 Tips for a More Sane Holiday Season

I hate the mall. I live in a town that has a really nice mall. It’s outside, so each store has its own entrance. It’s well landscaped and the roads outside of the stores are cobblestone.

Despite all the niceties of my mall, I don’t want to go.

I will order things online from a store that is an eight minute drive from my house just to avoid getting in the car, finding a parking spot, going into the store, having to make small talk with salespeople, seeing something on sale that I don’t really need, having an internal argument about whether I should or shouldn't get it, deciding this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, buying it, and hating myself six months later because I spent $70 bucks on something that is going to the Goodwill because I “really don’t have any space to store that.”

I try to identify stressors in my life and avoid them. The mall, as you can see, is one of my major stressors.

“What are you doing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukkah?” is a question that I am already frequently hearing. More often than not the person on the receiving end of the question sighs or groans and starts in on a diatribe about the travel, multiple homes to visit or the amount of people they have to house during the most wonderful time of the year. I hear things like, “We just have to get through Thanksgiving Day, and then we can relax.” Some people voice concerns about the financial strain the holidays put on them.

And while you can avoid the mall, you might not be able to avoid Uncle George and his political diatribe over pumpkin pie or Cousin Sue’s extensive description of a weird dream she had last night. You can; however, lessen some of your anxiety about the holidays. Here are some things I try to keep in mind.

1. Identify your major holiday stressors and avoid them. About eight years ago, my mom and I decided that making the traditional Thanksgiving dinner was not worth the stress. We sat down and came up with a menu that we would enjoy much more than turkey and mashed potatoes and we have never looked back. Every year our menu changes a bit, but it is never traditional and never stressful. We make things we enjoy cooking. By all means, if cooking a 20 pound turkey is your jam, DO IT! The point is, if something causes grief or anxiety, change it up.

  • 2. If you can’t avoid a major stressor, prepare for it. I have a friend who occasionally takes a shot of whiskey before funerals or awkward social situations. Just one shot. Never more and she doesn’t keep drinking. While I’m not suggesting everyone throw back a shot before a stressful situation, I am suggesting you really think about what calms you and gives you peace. For me, a good night of sleep does wonders for my emotional stability. So does yoga, a long bath, a glass of wine, talking with a good friend, or maybe even a reward after getting through the situation. If you can mentally prepare and visualize, you might feel less stress during the actual event.

    3. Schedule time to relax. I have said this before but it is a GAME CHANGER. I have already had Mark block off his calendar for the Saturday we are putting up our Christmas tree. I LOVE decorating for Christmas. We have an artificial tree and we just mosey through the day decorating and drinking spiced wine all while having a Christmas movie on TV. It’s relaxing and I look forward to it. Maybe you need to schedule a babysitter, or a family dinner, or say no to a holiday party. Enjoy this holiday by doing things that bring you joy too.

    4. Try to exchange frustration for laughter. This one is hard, but your life will be so much better once you master this skill. I’m still working on it. Several years ago, we were having Christmas Eve dinner at my house. I had baked a loaf of pumpkin bread and set it on the glass cooktop to cool. I didn’t realized that one of the burners was on and about 10 minutes later the glass loaf pan holding my pumpkin bread broke open with the sound of a gunshot. Glass went everywhere. I burst into tears.

    What a weenie I was back then. If only I could have just gone into clean up mode and made awkward glass swallowing jokes at the table anytime anyone bit into something crunchy the day would have gone much better.

    The holidays bring out the best and the worst in people. Celebrate the best and laugh at the worst. It will make you a much happier person.

    While we all can, and should, avoid the mall this holiday season, it’s not always easy to stay calm during this busy time of year. Hopefully you can grab an idea from the list to put into action and savor the season, instead of simply getting through it.

    I wish you all calm, peace, and sincere enjoyment as we head into the end of 2018. #gonnagetit

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