Thanksgiving is almost here, and Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s are not far behind. While these are exciting times most of us look forward to, they often are very stressful times as well. Food needs to be prepared. Houses need to be cleaned and organized. Trips need to be planned. Gifts need to be bought and exchanged. Kids are expected to be well behaved and charming with family members and other guests. Even the pets are expected to be on their best behavior… But really?
While we are happy this time of the year is just around the corner, we may also feel overwhelmed by everything we want to get done TO PERFECTION before our family gets here, or before we go and visit them. We may create unrealistic expectations for ourselves and others. We may idealize what will happen. In our minds everything will be just the way we want it to be: everybody will get along with everybody else; each one will be happy to be together and will be at their best. Wonderful memories will be created that will be cherished for many years to come.
Holidays can actually be very difficult and stressful times for a lot of us, if we don’t adequately prepare for them. And this means having REALISTIC expectations and letting go of the fantasized views of them that we create in our minds. These fantasized views are exactly fantasies, not reality. They are fed by romantic pictures we see on television or in magazines, where everybody is happy and everything looks wonderful and super easy to do. But, when we hold on to these fantasized views, often we get disappointed and frustrated, because OUR reality very seldom, if ever, matches those views. We feel angry at whomever we decide was the cause of our disappointment. We don’t understand what happened and why. We grow inpatient and intolerant with the people who don’t follow our master plan.
Is there a solution to all this?
Make a list of what you need to do and keep it simple. Stick to what you know; don’t try new experiments. Review your list of guests and make sure they are suited to one another. Make food preparation easy: do not make an elaborate menu that requires hours and hours, maybe even days of work. In the end, the food may be delicious, but you will be too exhausted to even enjoy it!
Above all, PLAN. Starting a week ahead, write lists of what needs to be done. Organize the list in order of priorities. Some things can be done ahead of time. Others may need to be done at the last minute. Delegate rather than trying to do everything yourself. People typically like to be included and contribute to the celebration. Each person has one or more areas where they excel. Make use of these talents and resources.
Don’t forget to regularly check with yourself how you are holding up: are you tired? How is your level of energy? Are you more impatient and irritable than usual? Are you sleeping well? Do you feel rested when you wake up in the morning? Are you taking time for yourself?
If you keep track of your feelings and listen to what your body is telling you, you can enjoy this wonderful time of celebrations with family and friends.
H A P P Y H O L I D A Y S!