The holiday season has literally begun. The debate of when it’s appropriate and acceptable to put up one’s Christmas tree has been happening for weeks. Therefore, this phrase needs to be fully embraced by every man, woman, and child, “keep it simple.” I have a sneaking suspicion there will be oodles of social media posts, podcasts, more blog posts and inspirational images boasting a similar vibe or tone. But, that is not what you’re going to find here, today. We aren’t going to “deep dive” into the psychological reasons of why we need to ensure we keep it simple this holiday season or how the stressors of the holiday season can manifest themselves physically. What there will be, however, are some tangible and easy things one can begin to implement to hopefully help keep it simple.
Know Your Own Bandwidth
You will be pulled in a multitude of directions throughout the course of the holiday season. People with the best of intentions in all of your social circles–work, school, church, friends, charitable organizations, etc. will ask even more of your most precious commodity: Time. Being able to identify the areas which are of most importance to you and where you feel the deepest connection will play a crucial role in knowing how much of your time you are willing to spend engaged in an activity/event and where you are not.
“No”/”No, thank you.”
To piggyback off of the above, being able to effectively and respectfully say ‘no’ when you feel you are being stretched too far will play a crucial role in your quest to keep it simple. If you want to make it fancy, you can say ‘no, thank you.’ As a friend has had to remind me on multiple occasions, no is a full sentence. You do not need to justify your no or your no, thank you.
With the holidays that oftentimes means the gathering of family and friends for parties, gift exchanges, and the like. You may be called upon to host one or more events or you’re the one who thoroughly enjoys being the host/hostess with the most/mostess. That being said, whether you’re the attendee or the host of any holiday gathering/event, it can be quite helpful to lay out the expectation upfront. Doing so, can alleviate additional stress placed upon all involved.
This one is a tough one. No matter how you slice it, there most likely will be an awkward conversation had with a well intentioned (or at least we hope) relative or family friend who feels comfortable to discuss all subjects with any and everyone regardless of social appropriateness. Not sure what items should probably not be discussed in mixed company and/or someone you’re not very close to? Let’s just lay some of ’em out then shall we? Politics (duh); weight gain or weight loss–anything body related actually; romantic relationships or lack thereof; when a couple or individual plans of having a baby; religion; and anything medical (you know what I’m referring to as that can also fall into the political category very quickly). If you find yourself engaged in one of these topics and you’re not sure what to do, if you feel comfortable, feel free to respectfully hold the conversation. However, if at any point your level of comfortability changes, refer to our second tip of “no” and “no thank you”; wait for a pause and deploy a quick form of “no thank you” and redirect the conversation to a lighter topic. Just because you find yourself sat next to Aunt Mary and you share the same DNA does not mean you have to engage in super uncomfortable dinner conversation whilst internally screaming.
Prioritize & Organize
For those of you who are not keen to organization this may be a terrifying thought and cause more stress and that is not the point; but, prioritizing what is important to you and your family during the holidays can be key in keeping it simple. Make a list for yourself of what tasks and activities are of most importance to you and your family during the holidays. The list doesn’t have to be extensive or filled to the brim with every potential holiday activity under the sun; but, maybe each member of your family gets to select one thing that is done. You may be surprised to discover it could be as simple as a cozy night in watching a movie, a drive around the neighborhood to see decorations, or attending a church service together. Carving out the time to ensure those items are done, within reason, have potential for making some lasting memories.
Give it to God. Whatever is gnawing at you and causing you to spiral–physically, emotionally, physically–pray. The beauty is He already knows what is causing you pain; He already knows what is causing you stress; He already knows what causes you joy; He already knows what makes you, you because He already knows everything about you–He just wants you to bring all of it (the good, the bad, the ugly) to Him.
Bottom line is this, we all want to minimize stress around the holiday season. The last few weeks of November and all of December oftentimes can feel like a full court press to the finish line of the year. The desperate desire to do ‘it’ all and cram ‘it’ all in–whatever the ‘it’ is for you and your family–in addition to the regular demands on your life, resulting in higher stress levels and shorter tempers. I’m not here saying if you implement these tricks that magically all the angst will be gone and life will be magically easier than it was the day before. But, you may discover if you’re able to find ways to keep it simple this holiday season may be one of the more enjoyable ones yet.
To keeping it simple…
Until next time,