I’ll simplify. I won’t worry I’m not finding the perfect gifts. I’ll stay on a tight budget. I won’t over-indulge with food.
The reality is, I never meet all of these expectations.
I’ve always loved celebrating Christmas. Just thinking of Christmas songs fills me with a longing to smell pine trees and gingerbread cookies. I can’t wait to set up our manger scene and snow village. And drive around the neighborhood with my husband and two daughters (they’re in their 20s!), sipping hot chocolate, and admiring the twinkly Christmas lights.
But as I’ve gotten older, I hate to say, I kind of dread December. One word to describe that festive, joyous month? Hectic.
No matter how organized I try to be, I always end up rushing around. December is crunch time. I have my usual business and household responsibilities. Plus I need to shop for gifts, decorate, send out Christmas cards, go to dinner parties, and entertain.
I need to slow down. I want to stay healthy and happy. I want to spend more time lounging on the couch watching Christmas movies with Mackenzie and Talee. I want to block off a whole day to bake fudge, and pretzel sticks wrapped in caramel and chocolate.
I’m not going to set a goal to finish all my shopping by December 1. Realistically, that won’t happen. So I’ve thought of ways to help keep my anxiety to a manageable level. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
- Simplify. I’m all about simplifying, in all aspects of my life. But this particular idea relates to gift buying. Years ago, we bought presents for about sixty people. Now it’s down to our immediate family and a couple close friends. But here’s my problem. I second guess myself with a gift I’ve already bought for someone. I worry so much about them liking it or not. Sometimes I return the first gift, buy another, and then I get all mixed up. It’s stressful and time consuming. I need to make a decision, stick with it, and move on.
- Exercise. There’s so much more to do, I find it hard to stick to my workout routine. But this is a must. Whether it’s going to the gym or for a walk, exercise is mandatory for me. It relieves stress. And it burns some of the extra calories I consume from cookies, cheese potatoes, and peppermint mochas. Believe it or not, one of my favorite memories from last holiday season was when Mackenzie, Talee, and I went to the gym. It was a couple of days before Christmas. The gym was quiet. It felt great to move my body, sweat, stretch, and get a little stronger. The girls and I worked out together, laughed, and said how glad we were to be in the gym instead of out in the hustle and bustle.
- Be mindful. Deep breathe. Meditate. These are always important, but especially now. If I’m feeling anxious, I need to stop and acknowledge it. I slow down and breathe in deeply, which instantly relaxes me (most of the time). When I’m driving, I’ll turn off the radio to get rid of the noise and chatter, and take a few deep breaths and slow exhales. I want to get in the practice of meditating for at least ten minutes a day. This can be simple. I’ll sit in a quiet space, close my eyes, and concentrate on my breathing. Be mindful. Be grateful.
- Commit to Less, Delegate More. This is easier said than done. I’ll keep my calendar free on certain days, with fewer obligations. That way I can have a chance to refresh and reevaluate my priorities. I’ll agree to more help in the kitchen and with errands.
- Read a book. My first thought is, I don’t have time! But even fifteen minutes a day would be helpful. Reading is a way for me to escape. It forces me to sit down, put my feet up, and relax. This would be a great time for some chamomile tea and homemade pumpkin bread.
The holidays don’t have to be picture perfect. In fact, some of the best memories are made when things don’t go as planned.
I’m sure I’ll still experience anxiety during this busy Christmas season.
But I’m striving for less.
First image courtesy of: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2010/dec/24/retailers-braced-last-minute-shopping