Well, the holidays are officially off and running. It’s that time of year when many people compare their lives to Rockwell paintings, Martha Stewart magazines, and the social lives of the Kardashian’s.
Rather than the unbridled joy that these images may present, I hear a lot of stress-related concerns from my clients. They are stressed about not having enough time to fit “it all” in. They are concerned about not being able to create the Rockwell image of the holiday and disappointing their family and friends when it comes to gift-giving and holiday event scheduling. All of this stress provides the perfect opportunity to have a conversation about what “it all” means and if “it all” is bringing joy to the holiday season or just layering on undue stress.
I encourage my clients to take a few minutes and review priorities to see if the importance of some things may have shifted. Here are some great places to start:
- Be realistic about holiday expectations. Try not to hold yourself to the Rockwell and Martha Stewart standards (don’t even get me started on Pinterest). As much as I love outside images for inspiration, it is almost impossible to have our homes and meals live up to the standards presented by professional stylists and photographers.
- Edit your schedule. Do you really need to accept every invitation that comes your way? No. Some events may be non-negotiable, like the company holiday party. That one you should probably attend. There may be others you can edit out. For example, do you really need to attend the Book Club mixer on Thursday, when you already are committed the company party on Friday and your child’s holiday recital on Saturday? Something has to give. So, when you receive an invitation, ask yourself if this is “must do” and if so put it on the calendar. If you receive an invitation you aren’t psyched about and the event just feels like an obligation, possibly a polite “no, but thank you for the invitation” may be the correct way to go.
- Whenever possible, stick to your routine. During the holidays, some of us tend to eat too much, drink too much, not exercise, and certainly not get enough sleep. Neglecting our own personal care causes us to get run down, cranky and possibly sick. It certainly is okay to eat a little differently, have a glass of wine when you may not normally, and stay up a little later than you typically would, but remember “everything in moderation.”
- Abandon what’s not important. For many, the holidays are all about tradition. Well, sometimes our traditions just don’t make sense for the way we currently live our lives. Does taking the day to press cider and cut down a tree in the forest still bring you joy? If so, go for it. If not, let it go. Are the time, energy, and money spent on gathering items for Santa stockings important to your 17, 21, and 24-year olds? If so, do it. If not, let the stocking process go. Spend that time doing something you truly enjoy.
- Ask for and accept some help. We don’t need to do it all ourselves! In general, people enjoy being a part of the process and feel a sense of contribution. Instead of taking on the entire responsibility for huge, festive dinners, make them potluck. Ask family members to help wrap packages. Delegate grocery shopping. Just because we’ve done it all in the past, doesn’t mean we need to continue to do it all ourselves.
The holidays are meant to be joyful and fun for everyone. Starting with you.
National Association of Professional Organizers, Seattle Chapter President
Level I Certificates earned in Chronic Disorganization; ADD; Client Administration; Time Management; Mental Health; and Hoarding.
Level II Specialist Certificates earned in Chronic Disorganization and ADHD.