The shopping and the crowds. The back-to-back diet-busting parties. The interminable chats with relatives you see once a year.
It is easy to NOT feel so wonderful at this most wonderful time of the year.
So I’ve rounded up a few expert-endorsed rules-of-thumb to help YOU control your holidays. “Rules of thumb” rather than “Rules” are more helpful because they’re more flexible than rules; they’re just guidelines
Let go of the idea of ‘perfection.’
The desire for perfection burdens many people and can ironically doom them to unhappiness. And if you are over the age of ten, you’ve learned that ‘perfect’ doesn’t exist anyway. NO ONE ELSE IN THE WORLD has everything turn out perfectly. In fact, your loved ones don’t care if your house isn’t spotless! They just want to spend time with YOU.
In the words of Elsa from Disney’s Frozen, “Let it go!”
Embrace saying “no.”
You can only do so much, dear reader!
Believe it or not, I am an introvert, so the more my calendar fills up, the more stressed I get. So I have learned how to pick and choose what events are important to me, and which ones I can stand to miss out on if I’m just too tired. (The wonderful thing about being older is that I can say “I’m taking a nap.” and everyone understands.)
And did you know that declining politely will usually suffice; you don’t even have to give a reason. Just say ‘no’ and stick with your decision without feeling bad. People understand that everyone is busy this time of year.
DON’T try to go on a diet.
Trying to diet or lose weight during the holidays is just a bad idea. For one thing, skipping meals or eating too little not only sets you up to go overboard on sweet treats and indulgent foods later on, but it also makes your blood sugar dip, making you tired, cranky and even more stressed. You must then deal with the inevitable feelings that you “failed” by not sticking to a diet or losing weight. Instead, try to eat a regular, balanced diet during the holidays and enjoy your favorite holiday treats mindfully and to the fullest extent. (The grocery stores only have nutmeg once a year.)
Depriving yourself will just end up causing you more stress.
Enlist some help.
Nobody can do everything by themselves. When family or friends offer to help, graciously accept. Ask them to bring a dish to your gathering or to pick up napkins on their way over.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask your spouse to figure out dinner tonight. Can’t get an appetizer ready for the party you’re supposed to go to? Pick up a pre-made one. There is no shame in needing help, during the holidays or anytime.
Carve out time for yourself.
Take a breath and remember to do something for yourself every day.
That might include taking a bath in the evening, scheduling a yoga class, or waking up 5 minutes early to drink your coffee alone, or reading quietly. Do something to take care of you so you can unwind and be better able to take care of others.
And finally, five guidelines when you’re talking to others
Be aware that during the first 30 seconds of a conversation, your light is green.
In the second 30 it’s yellow;, the person may be starting to think you’ve said enough.
At the one-minute mark, you usually should shut up or ask a question.
Also, talk 20 to 40 percent of the time. Your conversation partner will feel likely better about the outcome and about you and you’re more likely to learn something.
Finally, disagree sparingly. You pay a price each time you disagree, let alone criticize. Assess whether it’s worth the price.
You only see these people once a year. No one really changes during the Holidays!.
And finally, remember what the holidays are about. (This one is the most important!)
The holidays aren’t about gifts or lights or the perfect party dress. They’re about celebrating a special commemoration with loved ones. So choose to relax, pour yourself a glass of wine or eggnog-with-brandy, and enjoy the people you love. Choose to be in the moment while you are surrounded by those you love, and those who love you.
And yes, dear reader, it is a choice you can make!
Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent.” His seminar “Taming Your Mind, Unleashing Your Life” is now available online at stevenrcampbell.teachable.com. For more information, call Steven Campbell at 707-480-5507.