It should come as no surprise that stress levels peak during the holidays. You’ve got parties to go to, dinners to attend, festive holiday wardrobe to wear, and gifts to purchase, all the while stretching a paycheck, that for most of us, didn’t cut it during the regular part of the year, let alone during the 4th quarter when most retailers are using every gimmick in the book to get themselves back in the black.
I’m not poo-poo’ing the Holidays. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I love the Holidays and the hustle & bustle, the smells, the special dishes that typically only come once a year, and more importantly, the opportunity to reconnect with my family.
Yet despite how happy the Holidays make me, I’ve often asked myself, “If this is supposed to be the happiest time of the year-why I am so stressed out?”
Fortunately, I have a pretty high tolerance for stress. This comes in very handy in my line of work, and during the holidays. I’ll share with you my 4 tips to avoid having a mental break down during the holidays.
TIP #1 – PICK ONLY ONE PARTY TO GO TO
Around this time of year there are going to be parties, luncheons, mixers, and celebratory meetings. You don’t have to go to every event you get invited to. While it may be tempting, and dare I say adventurous to go to 3 events in one day, it can be draining on your energy level and maybe even your liver.
I’m a people pleaser. I enjoy making people happy. Sometimes I have a difficult time saying “No.” especially to people I care about. This often gets me into stressful situations. During the Holidays you might find yourself over-committing to more parties than you need to, or going nuts over how many different homes you need to visit delivering holiday cheer.
“If this is supposed to be the happiest time of the year-why I am so stressed out?”
The truth is, this type of stress can be avoided by simply picking one, maybe two events that you absolutely have to be present at and not worry about the rest.
TIP #2 – WEAR THE SAME OUTFIT MORE THAN ONCE
If you absolutely have to go to more than one Holiday function, consider wearing the same outfit more than once. There is no shame in this and the fashion police aren’t going to arrest you. You have enough stress to deal with by wearing the same outfit more than once, you’ll save yourself time and the agony of trying to figure out what to pair what with. This is the same reason that some of the greatest minds in business wear the same thing every single day. It is to declutter your mind from unnecessary decisions.
TIP #3 – GIVE THE GIFT OF YOUR TIME
One of the greatest gifts that you can give anyone is the gift of your time. Think of that special person you haven’t visited with or taken the time to meet with and schedule a time to visit them. A gift isn’t even necessary, trust me, they’ll appreciate the gesture. These days even just picking up the phone and calling someone and chatting on the phone is a gift. We’ve become a society of texter’s and IM’ers that many of us have forgotten whats it like to simply talk on the phone. Don’t just text that person an invitation to lunch-CALL him or her. If they don’t answer leave them a message. Even if their schedules don’t permit an opportunity to meet, the fact that you called them speaks volumes.
TIP #4- DON’T STRESS OUT OVER GIFTS
It was Christmas 1991 and my parents were in the middle of a bitter divorce. I was old enough to figure out that Mom and Dad were playing hot potato with holiday duties, which ultimately resulted in Christmas being cancelled at our home.
This was uncharted territory for us. We were used to having a fully decorated tree with enough gifts underneath it to give the fire marshall a panic attack. We’d make a list of everything we wanted, while our mother and father met the demands of our hand written ransom notes. Someway, somehow, we got 90% of what we asked for.
Meeting our holiday expectations didn’t come without its costs, and it wasn’t only a financial toll.
We were used to our Dad working every Holiday as a grocery store manager so he could make double and triple time. Thanksgiving & Christmas dinners were always without him. He was rarely there to watch us open gifts. We’d visit family members delivering good cheer without Pops. He was an amazing provider, but what we really needed was his time.
Children are more resilient than adults give them credit for, myself included, and I happen to be a former child. My siblings and I didn’t mind not having the tree or gifts Christmas of ‘91, as knew we’d be celebrating elsewhere and one way or another we’d get gifts even if we didn’t get them at home.
“These days even just picking up the phone and calling someone and chatting on the phone is a gift.”
On the morning of Christmas Eve my mother woke us up full of excitement and said, “I have a surprise for you! I’m leaving, but I’ll be right back.”
She disappeared for a couple of hours and our minds ran wild with anticipation. Surely she coming back with the Sega Genesis that was on our list! My brother and I couldn’t wait to play the latest Sonic The Hedgehog game. We sat in the livingroom staring out the front window until we saw her car, a late model white Ford Crown Victoria, and tied to the top of the car was something I will never forget.
Our little minds thought gifts, but my Mom saw the bigger picture. Tied to the top of the car was a Christmas tree. Yep. We got our Christmas tree the night before Christmas. I’m not going to lie, the 1991 teenager in me was disappointed, but the present day Father of 5 in me recognizes the selfless significance of this. Her marriage was in shambles and as easy as it was to let her kids suffer the brunt of the battle, she did her best to make sure Christmas didn’t pass over our home.
I remember just a handful of Christmas gifts I received as a child. I’ll always remember that Christmas of ‘91. It’s easy to get caught up in gift giving, and if you’re not careful you’ll stress yourself out over gifts that most people, including your children, won’t remember.
Don’t stress yourself out over the gifts. Do what you can with what you’ve got. The saying, “Those that mind don’t matter, and those that matter don’t mind.” couldn’t me more true during the holidays. My Grandfather on my Wife’s side of the family gives me a screwdriver or some $4 tool every year, and you know what? Every once in a while they come in extra handy.
I hope you enjoy every second of the Holiday Season as it is one of the most magical times of the year and should be something we look forward to as opposed to dreading, or worse yet-fearing. May the words “Believe”, “Magic”, and “Joy” be with you not only during this season, but throughout the year.
Happy Holidays & New Year!
Originally published at https://paulargueta.com on December 1, 2019.