You can avoid holiday overwhelm with a little advanced planning.
There are so many wonderful things about the holiday season and often along with all of that wonderfulness comes holiday overwhelm and decision fatigue. Our holiday overwhelm comes from expectations, holiday events and gatherings, gift exchanging and other extras on top of our usual day-to-day work and responsibilities. It’s easy to understand the exhaustion we experience throughout the end of the year.
If you are wondering, why are the holidays so stressful, this article shares a few reasons. “When we try too hard to be happy, we make ourselves miserable,” There are in fact many potential traps during the holidays. The APA study revealed the top stressors include lack of time, money worries, gift-giving pressure and family get-togethers. The hassles of travel and worries about taking time off from work also make the list.”
Start by remembering the holiday overwhelm of seasons past. Maybe you’ve promised yourself you’d do it differently making more room for holiday magic, peace and connection this year. The simplest way to avoid holiday overwhelm is to say no to almost everything.
Make a list of the things you will say no to.
Saying no can be hard, but this will help. Take a look at what you have coming up during the last two months of the year. While your items may be different, here are a few things to consider.
Avoid holiday overwhelm and …
Say no to cooking 1000 things.
Holiday meals can result in holiday overwhelm unless you are willing to focus on a few dishes instead of all of them. If preparing and serving a meal removes you from enjoying the holidays, do it differently. Let everyone bring something to the table. Be unconventional with your choices and remember that the time around the table is more valuable than the time in the kitchen. Ask for help, do less and say no.
Say no to Black Friday, Cyber Monday and any forced shopping situation.
When I think back to the things I’ve purchased just because they were on sale, I remember that if the best thing about something is the price, I usually don’t need it. Say no to shopping for the best deal or buying things now because they are on sale that you might use later. I’m not suggesting you should overspend on items but be mindful about your motivation to purchase. Don’t buy just because someone told you today was the best day to buy. The best day for whom? There may be an exception for an expensive and needed household item but for the most part, you can mute all of the Black Friday nonsense and do this instead.
Say no to sending holiday cards.
I enjoy sending thank you cards, and other thinking of you cards during the year, but holiday cards are just a little too much for me. It always turns into a bigger production than I imagine, and then they get lost in a sea of holiday cards. So, it’s a no. Look at your holiday traditions and the things you think you are supposed to do. If sending holiday cards is something that adds to your holiday experience, send them. If you are sending them out of obligation and they contribute to holiday overwhelm, let it go.
Say no to hangovers and alcohol stress.
I stopped drinking almost four years ago and worried that without a fancy cocktail or champagne, the holidays may not feel as festive. If you are worried about navigating the holidays without alcohol or concerned about what other people might think, read this. Not drinking has reduced holiday overwhelm for me.
Say no to ignoring your budget.
There’s extra pressure to dine out, over shop, give gifts and more spending that you may not have the budget for. Respect your budget and say no to things that will leave you overextended. Consider your time and attention budgets too. If you want to get off the gift train all together, consider this.
Say no to buying new holiday stuff.
I won’t buy new ornaments, outfits, festive dish ware or anything else I won’t want in my home post holiday (even though I think I want it in the name of holiday spirit). It’s not that I don’t think those glossy white plates with a gold foil stamped reindeer aren’t beautiful, or finding another sentimental ornament to add to the tree wouldn’t be somewhat meaningful. The simple truth is that I have enough. I’d rather spend my time being content with what I have instead of being in search of something I’m missing. New holiday gear is tempting but take a look at what you have. Is it enough? If it is, be grateful. If there is plenty and you still want more, just know that it will never be enough. Eventually it will turn to clutter and contribute to your holiday overwhelm.
And it’s a no to all of these things too.
Make your “yes list” too. Embrace the holidays (and continue to avoid holiday overwhelm) by …
Saying yes to prioritizing sleep and self-care.
Years ago, I celebrated the holidays staying up too late and by over-committing and over-extending. I always got sick and felt badly about how I treated myself. Now things are different. I do the holidays differently (like I do my life differently) … with more love and intention. I don’t want to “survive” the holiday season or “get through” it. I want to enjoy and embrace it. Instead of abandoning the things I know are good for me in the name of enjoying the holiday season, I’ll sleep 7-8 hours a night, practice my morning routine daily and spend more time nourishing my body, heart and soul. Build in extra time to take care of you, even if that means leaving the party early. If you aren’t sure how to take care of yourself, try one of these recommendations.
Saying yes to quiet walks in the snow
The holidays are a time to connect, but in order to bring my best to the people I love spending time with, I have to spend time alone. I don’t apologize for that. Long walks, hot baths, and slow books give me the alone time I need so I can give everyone else what they need. If you need alone time, take it.
Saying yes to delight.
What if all of our decisions were based in love and delight? I’ll say yes to all of this because it’s steeped in delight. I find delight in …
- Coziness and candlelight, sipping hot tea and watching the snow fall.
- Watching The Holiday.
- Baking cookies for the people in our homeless community. I know they need more, but they deserve delight too. Handing a small bag or tin of homemade cookies to someone with nothing is everything.
- Enjoying the city holiday lights at 5:30 am when everyone is sleeping instead fighting the evening crowds.
- 31 Days of Gifts You so Deserve. I’m bringing this advent calendar for your inbox back again this year. Watch for an invitation for this delightful experience coming soon.
I will be saying yes to delight this year. Make a list of what delights you. That’s your yes list.
Saying yes to leaving the dishes in the sink
It’s been our wintertime tradition to eat a big breakfast, head out to the slopes early to ski and leave the dirty dishes in the sink. I used to feel bad for leaving them but not anymore. The mountains are calling and the dishes can wait. What do you want to do instead of the dishes? That’s your yes list too.
Avoid holiday overwhelm by saying no to almost everything
If you honor every request with a yes, you will compromise your health, family, peace of mind, and the joy of living your life. If you don’t say no, there will be nothing left of you to say yes to. You will find more time, freedom and energy when you start saying no. Say yes to love, yes to delight and no to almost everything else. The holidays will still be as magical and meaningful if you scale back, say no and do a little less. You may even discover that because you decided to do things differently this year, the holidays are better than before.
Related: Take a look at our 5-step guide for decluttering to ward off the overwhelm all year long.