If the number and variety of articles about holiday stress are any indication, “Happy December” is a bit of a misnomer.
For most, it’s more likely to be Hello Hectic
As we greet the month that is considered by many to be the most stress inducing time of the year I would like to share a couple of practices I’ve implemented over the years to put the happy back into your holidays.
Some time ago, I decided that I was done dreading the holiday season. The dread just took too much effort: all that festivity and so little joy.
So I began to whittle it down, bit by bit.
First I made a list of the things that I loved about the holidays. I followed that up with a list of the things that I dreaded. Finally, I made a list of ways I wanted to feel during the holiday season. Then I did the impossible. I slowly backed away from the things on the dread list.
Shopping topped my dread list, especially shopping at the mall.
So I replaced much of my gift giving. First by limiting the number of items I need to buy by giving donations in people’s names instead of gifts to many on my list. My next step is to invite people to do something fun together in lieu of exchanging stuff which, according to the Greater Good Science Center, makes everyone happier in the long run.
Finally, for the remaining physical gifts, I pick three places I love to shop and buy all my gifts at one of those places. Period.
Too many activities also made my dread list so learning to say no graciously was important. What helped me make this transition was realizing when I say no I leave space for someone else who wants to say yes. For instance, I love to cook but I understand that this tops many people’s dread list, especially when they are really busy. So this year, I created a cookbook full of fast, easy, healthy and delicious meals for people who would rather say no to cooking.
If daily meal prep makes your dread list, thanks for leaving room for me to say yes to helping you out. I hope you enjoy my simple cookbook full of fast, healthy and delicious meals for weeknight dinners, potlucks and entertaining. And while you’re saying no to fancy meals, I’m saying no to extensive decorating, something I know others love.
Before we venture any farther into December, I encourage you to take a couple of minutes to consider what makes your dread list. If you start paying attention today you’ll have plenty of time to strategize ways to whittle it down so your holidays are happy once again.
P.S. When the inevitable happens, no matter how much I try to whittle down and December does, in fact still feel hectic, I console myself by remembering Joe Rogan’s quote –
“If you ever start taking things too seriously, just remember that we are all just talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe.”