Why so Cranky?

After witnessing a woman in the London Drugs store snarl her way through 3 staff members, it occurred to me that perhaps a few tips for reducing stress this holiday season might be in order.

If you are struggling with the ease and flow of the holiday season, know that you are not alone.  As the big day approaches, many of us scramble with all the responsibility and the desire to get it done right.  The perfect gift, the perfect wrapping, the cookies, sending out cards, attending school plays, paying the bills…the list goes on and on.  With all this perceived responsibility, it is easy to fall victim to the pressures and start bah humbugging Christmas.

Stop it!  It is time to recognize and appreciate that there are no perfect holidays (except in the Norman Rockwell paintings).  The greatest gift you can give to yourself is to accept your limitations and time constraints.  It is absolutely okay to create your own holiday memories with your family and they don’t need to involve a nervous breakdown.     It sounds so easy doesn’t it…?

Maybe not, but you can begin with just a few of these reality checks to help you coast through the season with a little less  angst this year:

Reality Check # 1:  Christmas comes around every 365 days.  Make the decision right now that you cannot accomplish everything!   Look back on past holidays when you were a child, the things you remember most were probably not the gifts under the tree but the memories created with loved ones (and I doubt they involved anyone screaming at each other like a lunatic).

Reality Check #2:  Gift Giving should not be tied to obligation.  Focus on who you really want to give gifts to this year rather than who you feel obliged to give gifts to.  Financially, this is a necessary task to perform. Be strong, you simply do not have to give so many presents!  When searching for gifts, give yourself time and a budget to work with.

Reality Check #3:  Holiday tasks can and should be shared.  Try not to take control of everything. Delegate things like chores, cooking, accept offers of childcare and caring for guests. If you give your children small responsibilities, they are sure to surprise you with a job well done.   If the Christmas meal falls with you this year, cook the holiday turkey but let everyone else bring the rest. A group effort is much more rewarding than one person slaving in the kitchen for two days.

Reality Check #4:  Families Fight.  If the family fights with each other throughout the year, stop expecting them to put their bickering aside during the holidays. Once you accept this, it is amazing how much easier it is to not let these situations bother you.  Simply consider inviting friends who can sit between feuding family members and act as a buffer during the meal.

Reality Check #5:  Self-care is essential to maintaining your tempo during the holidays.  This may sound obvious but make an effort to relax; walk the dog, go skating, watch a movie.  Be alone for a few minutes or hours to reduce stress. Take downtime to snooze, read or relax – you have earned it!

Laugh – rent a funny movie, listen to a comedian or simply find funny friends! Laughing is a very important component to a happy and healthy life.   Music is also a great motivational tool. For those days when you cannot bear the thought of walking through the front door or tackling the mountain of washing/paperwork, listen to music that energizes you.

Yes it is important to keep old traditions alive but be open to new ones as well. Good memories are the unique ones that will be cherished by your entire family.

There is no excuse now. Go have fun, make memories and enjoy making sure that grandma doesn’t drink too much eggnog..