Let’s face it: making the holidays the most wonderful time of the year can be really stressful. Amid all of the excitement — and yes, the chaos — you’re going to need some coping strategies for keeping it all together. Here are some stress-free tips to get you through it all.
‘Tis the season to be STRESSED! It’s the time of year when all of our “selves” — wife/girlfriend/partner, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, boss, BFF, volunteer — get collectively assaulted with a superior case of overwhelm. No other time of year is equally stressful and simultaneously joyful.
We whip out our Superwoman cape that has been languishing in the cobwebbed section of our closet since this time last year. It’s right next to that pair of high-waisted, highly-coveted, size small Spanx we were able to wear ONCE (even though we almost threw our backs out and cut off blood circulation from our waists up the time we were able to finally get them over our hips). We are convinced we shall “one-day” squeeze and jump into them again, so we keep them around until then.
Unlike the small Spanx, the Superwoman cape gets to make an appearance at least once a year. Like, er … um … about now. But at what price?
Why do we place such an inordinate amount of pressure on ourselves to cram Instagram-worthy moments that we haven’t been able to create and/or deliver ALL YEAR long into the last 45 days of the year?
Year after year, against the odds, we -midlife women- are convinced that our holiday gifts will be so spectacular we won’t find the most expensive one cracked and forgotten in a pants’ pocket when we are doing laundry months later. We are convinced our holiday feast (replete with a tablescape that took longer to create, then the six hours it took to bake the 15-pound turkey) will magically solve all the unsolvable issues that have been festering in our lives all year.
The unhelpful husband, the sarcastic teen daughter, the adult son with horrible taste in women (and, oh dear, is that our fault – a direct reflection of our mothering capabilities?), the nosey, holier-than-thou mother-in-law, the needy BFF who continues to be traumatized by the fact that she is still single but does ZERO inner work on herself, the perfect sister, not to mention the limited time we have and the even more limited budget.
We have to admit to ourselves that life has been this way ALL YEAR. And if we’re being honest with ourselves, way longer than that in fact. And yet with our Superwoman cape, we are confident in the belief that THIS YEAR things will be different.
And it will be. Because THIS YEAR, we will approach the holidays differently.
We’ve reached an age when we DESERVE things to be different. But if those differences are going to manifest, we have to change our mindsets and our actions. You do know that doing things the same way and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. So, how about you try these three unique ways to breeze through the holidays instead?
1. Say NO
It is a complete sentence. Did you know that? And guess what, you can say it any time you want to. You can say no to inviting anyone over whose company you don’t enjoy. Even if they are related to you. You can say no to the request to sing at the special church service because you are TIRED and you don’t like the choir director and you don’t have an extra three nights to spare for the rehearsals.
2. Say NO without apologizing
That’s right. “No” and “I’m Sorry” are not mutually contingent phrases. This season, remove the “I’m sorry” and replace it with a slight shake of the head. Then change the topic and keep it moving. If you feel you just gotta say something after you drop the N-bomb, try “That doesn’t work for me.”
And when the requester gets over the shock (if you don’t go around throwing out the N-word willy nilly, trust me, they WILL be shocked. So prepare yourself in advance for it) and throws out a new but equally unappealing request or option, say: “That doesn’t work for me either.” Then, quickly follow this up with, “Listen, love you, I’ve gotta run!” And dash away. Even if you’re at home and having the conversation with the hubby and you aren’t dashing any further than the bathroom.
Do you know what you just did there? You’ve set boundaries. Unapologetically. If that doesn’t cure your Superwoman imposter syndrome, nothing will. Because this is a Badass move right here. Use it wisely.
3. Say NO without guilt
The reason the holidays stress us out so much is that we allow ourselves to be stressed out. That’s right. I’m blaming the victim here. But honestly, you really aren’t a victim except by choice. Stop trying to boil the ocean in 45 days. Allow yourself to have FUN.
Instead of labouring over just the perfect holiday gift, give gift cards this year and have them wrapped (notice I said “have them wrapped” not “wrap them”) in a beautiful box with a perfect bow and a short, but thoughtful, handwritten note that says, “Sometimes the most perfect gift is the one we select for ourselves. Enjoy!”
Boom! Shopping for 10 done in 10 minutes flat.
Don’t FEEL like cooking at all this year? Notify the family in advance you will be making reservations at the restaurant of your choice, or tell them that you will all be going to Nana’s house. In which case, you call Door Dash the day before and order a green bean casserole that you will unapologetically warm and package up the day of the dinner and happily take with you. Nana’s shocked expression will be an added perk.
Listen my loves, Superwoman was created by a white man in the 60s. Outside of his imagination and the movies/TV, she has never EXISTED. Cut yourself some slack. You have proven to others how fabulous you are, year after year after year. This year, prove it to yourself by enjoying the season your way.
Now, if that includes being the ringmaster for every traditional holiday experience and you truly love being the one who makes the magic happen, then by all means proceed as usual. But if there are elements of the holidays you don’t enjoy, give yourself the permission and grace to pick and choose which parts of the experience you want to happily manage and those you choose to delegate.