The festive season, whatever that means to you, comes at the same time every year. Yet, for some reason, many of us seem to be caught off guard and aren’t ready. We experience stress as we work at decorating our homes, shopping, and wrapping gifts, baking, and organizing and attending parties – and I have probably missed something from that list. The end of the year is also approaching and for many that means the end of a business year and lots of bookwork and deadlines. For students and teachers, there are final exams and the marking of those exams. Good grief – so much going on.
Will we never learn?
How do you handle the extra work and the stress?
We all experience stress, there are stressors every day. Some of our stressors are small and we don’t notice them – though they do build up. At this time, we might want to identify the stresses of the season and figure out what we can do to really make this a joyous, beautiful festive season.
Another person’s stress might not be the same as yours. I know some people get excited about decorating their homes, baking, shopping, and parties. But, for many, it is an overwhelming amount of work and stress.
Our coping methods also differ. There are a wide variety of methods to deal with stress, but they are not all equal. Some coping methods are also not good for our health.
With the season comes parties which include food and alcohol, and maybe recreational drugs. These tend to not be good for your body if overdone.
Not so good coping mechanisms – Smoking, Alcohol, Drugs (prescription and recreational).
Coping mechanisms that can be good or not so good – depending on how much you do them – Sleep, Watch TV, Hole up in your bedroom, Ignore the stress, and carry on.
Better coping mechanisms can include – Exercise, being with Friends/Family, Read, Meditating, getting a Coach, Praying, get a Massage.
Distinguish helpful from harmful. What really works for you? If you aren’t sure what works, take some time and become aware of when you are stressed and what you do to help you cope.
Great, you have this year under control now. But will it be the same next year – too much to do, too much to eat and drink, too much spending?
Consider taking time, reflecting, and discussing with your loved ones what can be done to make this a fun, joyous, and beautiful time.
Traditions – outdoor fun like tobogganing, building that snow person, cross-country skiing, skating or if you are in a warm climate, swimming, hiking, walks on the beach, water skiing. Maybe the tradition of watching a Christmas movie on Christmas eve or day, or board games. Spiritual practices can help alleviate some of the frantic activity of the season.
What if we were to spread the joyous season out to cover the entire year – what would that look like. Family get-togethers and small gifts more often throughout the year. Getting together with friends more often would be nice (depending on what COVID is doing of course). All the activities we cram into a few days could be spread out over the entire year.
That doesn’t have to leave us without a special celebration. Decide what you want to celebrate, and how. Also, think about your values and align your celebrations with those values to get the greatest benefit. I love the food of the season, but I don’t necessarily have to prepare all of it, and I could enjoy it at other times throughout the year; I love the time with family and friends, but it doesn’t all have to be done in a day or two or even a week. Re-think that special meal and divide the duties. We have learned over the last 2 years that we can visit virtually – not quite the same, but it can be done and might be better for the planet and the pocketbook. You can decide you don’t have to do everything on one day and spread it out for the time(s) that work for you.
For years I worked on Christmas Day. The father of my children and I had divorced. His family celebrated big for Christmas, and we figured it was more fun for the kids to spend time with their dad and his family. And, by my working someone else would be able to spend time with their family.
Do what you can to make this a beautiful and joyous time.
Contact me if you need some help cutting back or reflecting on the past year and deciding to make 2022 a better year.
Enjoy this festive season, no matter how you celebrate.