Let's face it, no matter how much we are in love with this time of year, it can be pretty stressful. No matter if you have your holiday shopping done by Thanksgiving, your dinner menus planned through the new year, and ample vacation time to relax and enjoy, you're likely going to experience some level distress.
While the holiday season is supposed to be all about giving, joy, and love, lots of people tend to feel all sorts of pressures that makes them seem to forget these simple things. What type of pressure, you ask? Well, being sure you purchase presents for all of the people who will (you think) purchase them for you and your kids, being sure to at least make an appearance at all of the holiday gatherings (or virtual gatherings these days) you were invited to, getting all of your baking/cooking done (without burning anything/setting the house on fire) on the day of your family gathering, checking your closet to make sure you have something decent/stylish to wear to all of these festivities, and being sure not to drain your bank account in the process. Oh, and did someone say family? In-laws? Let's not forget the added tension that can suddenly manifest when you are navigating cooking, gift giving, conversation, and clean-up while you are under one roof with the family you normally don't see for a whole year. Suddenly you are second-guessing your life choices, reliving childhood traumas, and reaching for that 6th glass of Cab. By the way, how many helpings of dinner did you eat? Oh, right, 2 - No wait, that was dessert. And leftovers - whyyyyy? Next year, we are plating the leftovers up and handing them out to each family member as they exit the household. I barely have time to breath, let alone workout - I may as well throw in the towel, and sit by the fire with my bottle of wine while I shoot Reddi-Wip into my mouth in between sips of vino.
Holidays can be tough, and it can extremely difficult to find our balance during this haywire time of the year. I want to give you some tips, tricks, and even excuses that have worked for me over the years, and I honest-to-God consider myself the Black Sheep of the family.
Remember it is okay to indulge. Our bodies are extremely resilient, and it is A-OKAY to allow yourself to splurge and eat a little extra on the day of your holiday celebrations. A woman needs around 1,600-2,400 calories per day just to EXIST. Your jeans will still fit tomorrow if you eat a little extra today.
You don't have to participate/answer questions you don't feel comfortable with. Perhaps the holidays are a time when your older Aunt Suzie asks you why you aren't yet married. Maybe your Dad asks you when you will stop working for that non-profit and get a real, decent-paying job. Maybe its your sister asking you why you allow your kids to have a tablet, or watch television. Mama - Or Daddy, whoever is reading this - you do not have to prove yourself to these people. Rest assured that, despite what you may think in that moment, YOU know what is best for you and your family. Not you Dad, not your Great Aunt Helen, not you Grandma, and not your sister. Politely laugh, and change the subject. What you're doing with your life, as long as you aren't harming anyone else, is YOUR biz, baby.
Take a walk. While I know this time of year can be crazy, it can be so grounding and meditative, to take a walk outside. If you live somewhere where it is really cold, bundle up after dinner and take a 30 minute stroll. This can also give you a minute to clear your head after a long day with extended, or close, family. A simple 30 minute walk can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce excess body fat, boost muscle power, strengthen bones and give you some time to breath. And breath - it's important.
Keep in mind the season is about giving. This is especially important because if you receive gifts from someone you didn't expect you may feel a sudden twang of guilt because, shit, it didn't even cross your mind to get them anything. Guys, Gals, have you ever given anyone anything without expectations of receiving something in return? If you answered yes, I want you to think about how wonderful, how satisfying it felt to give - not give because you were secretly hoping for a $50 gift card to Target, but give because it was on your heart. Yeah, this is what this time of year is all about. So don't get too worked up when you don't remember to purchase a gift for your boss' daughter or your second cousin because they got you a little something. I'm sure they were overjoyed to give YOU a gift.
Your time is valuable. I realize you may find yourself in a pickle when you are invited to 3 holiday parties that are occurring at simultaneous times (as would any human), but it is OKAY to choose one. You may think that your friends will unfriend you, abandon you, forget about you, etc. if you cannot attend their holiday party. Trust me, they will forgive you. Most likely, you are not the only person that they invited, and even though they might get worked up about your initial declination to their invite, they will get over it as soon as they are the hostess with the mostess ( you will be but a twinkle in their eye). Do what is best for you, and don't try to please everyone. Worst case scenario, plan to attend a different party next year.
Finally, remember EVERYONE is experiencing stress. This means, when your friend irrationally gets angry at you because you didn't respond to her text message in a timely manner (gosh, what did we do before the days of yore) remember she has her own fish to fry. Your friend may be dealing with any of the stressors I listed above, and her intense response to your simple mistake is NOT about you. I repeat, it is NOT about you. Gently tell your dear friend why you weren't able to respond quickly, and ask if she would like to meet for a glass of wine. It will do the both of you good.
While I could spend hours typing away, providing insight into situations that I have personally encountered and offer reasonable resolutions, I will leave you with this: The holidays bring up all kinds of feelings, both good and bad, for all of us. Before you point a finger, remind yourself that the person you may want to accuse may be fighting a battle you know nothing about. Especially now, with all of the uncertainty - the most decent, most human, most loving, and most holiday(ish) thing we can possibly do is be kind.
Happy Holidays and may you all feel the blessings of this season!