It’s coming. It’s coming around the bend, roaring and chugging like a big, noisy freight train. And you’re standing right in the middle of the tracks, frozen, unable to move.
It’s the holidays. The signs have been out there for what seems like forever now. You know what happened on Nov. 1 — the piles of Halloween candy disappeared, to be followed by you-know-what. In a snap, the world changed from orange and black to red and green, relieved occasionally by some silver and gold.
Maybe this doesn’t bother you.
Maybe you like getting all those decorations out of the attic. Maybe you like all that cooking, and then the eating, and then the guilt for the eating. Maybe you like letting out the waists of all your pants. Maybe you like making all those lists and doing all that shopping, and accruing all that debt. Maybe climbing on the roof and risking your neck in order to string some lights and run up your power bill is your thing.
If any of those statements describe you, maybe you’d like to come over to our house and do all that stuff for us. How about it?
No? Didn’t think so. But this post isn’t about you anyway. This is for the rest of you who would like to enjoy the holidays — you know, the way you always did when you were a kid, the way those people in the movies still do — but you’re feeling a tad, well, stressed at the moment. And you’d like to do something about it.
Well, here’s are some suggestions. And if you don’t like these, Google “how to stay sane during the holidays,” and you’ll have more helpful advice than you can shake a candy cane at:
- Move your body. This isn’t just about burning off those extra calories, although it will help with that, too. Nothing is better for lowering stress than sensible exercise. And these days, with all that online shopping, we don’t get nearly the exercise we used to this time of year. Here’s a crazy thought: Go out to the mall and walk from one end to the other several times, dodging all that multitude. Don’t buy anything, just run the obstacle course. If you survive, you’ll have a great sense of accomplishment. Or… take a relaxed walk around the neighborhood. Daily.
- Learn to say “No.” You don’t have to go to every party, or shop for everyone you know. And you don’t have to eat that third piece of pie, or wash it down with one more eggnog. Don’t overdo, and you’ll feel better. One strategy that they say helps: When you do go to a party, fill up on vegetables as soon as you get there, and wash them down with pure water. That will make saying “no” easier.
- Continuing in that vein, we particularly like this piece of advice we found (from the Googling): “If it’s a hassle to get the decorating done, then choose to put out a little less.” You have that power! It applies in so many ways: Just because you’ve put out that Santa-and-his-reindeer lawn display for 30 years, you can decide not to. You don’t have to go to that party you always go to with those people you don’t really like. You don’t have to cook those same 10 dishes. Free yourself.
- Pick the things you know you like to do during the holidays and make sure you do them. For instance, don’t get so busy with the hard stuff that you don’t get around to popping some popcorn and watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” all the way through. And if that doesn’t do it for you, well, figure out what does. We mean, you thought you were having a tough time; look at ol’ George Bailey! And he managed to find his joy. (See photo at top of page.)
- Do only what matters. Not to you, but to others. That, after all, is what the holiday is supposed to be about. And you might find that others may be a little less demanding on you than you imagine, less tough on you than you are on yourself.
There’s more good advice out there, but that’s enough for now. We resolved to lessen our holiday load by making shorter lists. And we feel better already.