Provided by Rachel Miller Jacobsen, LAMF
Shopping, wrapping, baking, planning, spending, hosting, cleaning, Elf-on-the Shelf-ing, decorating, donating……giving. With all of this outgoing energy, we need to manage the “fuel”. What we can miss is that no one enjoys it if it is at the sacrifice of mom’s (or dad’s) joy. All year we give of ourselves and we get to the end of the year and it seems we have one final epic push that leaves us feeling exhausted and unappreciated. We give until it literally hurts us. We are dried up and brittle like our tree that we forgot to water after the first week. Here are three tips to enjoy the season more with less stress:
1) Reflect on what is important to you during the holidays. This may change over time, but thinking about what you want for this holiday season will help you choose more intentionally the people you would like to spend time with and how you would like to spend that precious time. It’s hard to have a meaningful holiday if you don’t determine ahead of time what will give it meaning. We don’t have to do the same thing year in and year out because “it’s what we’ve always done”. If there are more complaints than cheers, you have permission to stop doing it.
2) Communicate clearly how others can assist or support you. Accept offers to help shop, wrap or cook. Some people may not know how best to help, especially if your needs and desires have changed from last year. Most people are happy to help as long as they understand clearly what you want and they have enough time to provide the support. Our partners often try to gently encourage us to cut back but they are met with a dirty look or an eye roll. Take a deep breath and let them help!
3) Manage your spending. It’s easy to feel the pressure of consumerism during the holidays. Decrease the financial stress by making and sticking to a budget. Thoughtfulness need not come with a hefty price tag. Tell your loved ones up front to manage their expectations on both gifts and activities. Tis the season of more joy and reflection, and less stress and regret. Be grateful for what you have and be generous where you can.
Rachel is a Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in St Louis Park, MN. She has a special interest in couples, families and pregnancy/postpartum support. Her website is www.ampersandcounselingmn.com