The holidays haven’t always been happy for me. It’s the stress, man! My wallet and I are pulled in so many directions. Thanksgiving groceries. Décor. Cleaning service. Number one daughter’s birthday (and you know children are never inexpensive no matter how old). Christmas gifts. Tree. Ornaments. And lest I forget, I have to purchase plane tickets for myself, my daughter…and my dog. See what I mean? Stress, man!
I know you can’t combat it by saying “f@#$ this” and sit on your ass sipping Bailey’s until January 4, but there are definite ways you can significantly reduce stress and its SOB cousins—headache, anxiety attacks and back pain. I tried all of them and they really work. It all begins with an attitude adjustment.
- Focus on the reason for the season. No, seriously. Hear me out. Thanksgiving is a holiday developed for us to give thanks for our blessings. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. That’s it. Nothing more. Nowhere in those two descriptions is the crafting of the perfect tablescape or getting your kid’s teacher a gift that puts all other parents’ gifts to shame. Have you ever really shed a tear (thug or otherwise) because you didn’t get a scarf from your Aunt Sylvia? I doubt it and if the recipients/guests/whomever don’t give a damn just like you didn’t, why should you as the giver? Tell somebody you love ‘em. Go to church and bring someone with you. Volunteer your time. Change your focus and get your merry back.
- Between November 1 and January 3, plan some out-of-the-home activities that are purely for your enjoyment. It can’t be a service project, a “required” holiday party or involve people under 21. This Thanksgiving Eve, I went to City Winery for a performance by Musiq Soulchild. It was only a couple of hours away from the kitchen but it felt like I was miles away. I’m not a super fan but I love live music and I felt the weight lifting off my shoulders as he sang some of his old hits and transported me to back in the day. Whether it is a concert, ice-skating at the park or a night at the movies, do something selfishly fun outside.
- If you work a corporate gig, under no circumstances should you use your vacation time for the holidays. Work straight through and schedule off time after the holidays when all of the relatives are gone. While everyone else is back at the grind on Monday, you’ll be walking through your house buck naked and fancy free. But how do I get everything cooked/bought/done? Go back and read number one. Anything that can’t be cooked or picked up the week before, after work or before a reasonable bedtime, doesn’t need to be. I stuck by this rule this Thanksgiving, despite my propensity to always do way too much. My blood pressure thanks me.
- Take care of yourself. Get a massage or mani/pedi. Gift yourself some lash extensions. You don’t have a lot of cash? Take a bath with pretty, smell goods at least twice a month then. Give yourself a facial while listening to the music you like. Actually read your fashion magazines that are collecting dust. Self-care is how you ensure that you are around to take care of others. Find a way.
- Say no. I know it’s popular nowadays to say yes. I love Shonda Rhimes and I get it, but I would adjust her Year of Yes to Ten Months of Yes. “Say yes” January through October and then “shout no” for November throughout December. No, I can’t make it to your party. No, I’m not buying everyone with a pulse a gift. No, I’m not cooking a turkey, a ham, a duck and lamb chops. No, no, no. Say yes to self-care. Say yes to your sanity. Say yes to your savings account.
Implement these tips and watch your holiday cheer return. That usual harried pace will be transformed into a very zen stroll. Last, but never least, champagne!