Already Overwhelmed by the Coming Holidays? Here Are 7 Ways to Find the Holiday Happy

November 17, 2017

Photo by +Simple on Unsplash

Can we postpone Thanksgiving? Maybe until sometime after the New Year?

It’s not that I don’t have plenty to be thankful for, I do—it’s just that I’m feeling overwhelmed. The last three months have been a blur and things don’t seem to be slowing down. Thanksgiving is next week, and then, oh then, here comes Christmas. (That’s right. I said the C word.)

I’m not ready.

This seems to be a theme with me around the holidays—feeling overwhelmed and stressed. I don’t think it’s just me, however. There are many reasons someone might not feel that happy about the upcoming holiday season. Perhaps you’re feeling sorrow over a death in the family, fighting an illness, or you’re overloaded with work or other responsibilities.

Since I don’t want to be the Bah Humbug of the holiday season, I sat down to ponder what I—and anyone else finding him or herself overwhelmed by the prospect of the upcoming holidays—could do to find some Holiday Happy.

Here’s what I came up with:

1. Work on your communication skills. Communicate what you need for yourself and what you need from others. If necessary, practice saying what you need to say so that you don’t explode or cry or go silent when you have the chance to speak up.

2. Ask for and—even more important—accept help. Gatherings are more fun for everyone when we all get to contribute. No one wants to see you become a shell of yourself because you spent the entire day cooking a fabulous meal and then it was all over in 10 minutes and WHY DID I EVEN BOTHER, YOU UNGRATEFUL WRETCHES. No, no one wants to see that.

On a related note, cut back and outsource. Don’t try to do everything you’d normally do as well as all the holiday preparations. Pick up dinner at the grocery store, have the gifts professionally wrapped, hire a housecleaner just before your holiday party. See: “former shell of yourself,” above.

3. Don’t expect too much. We often raise our expectations about a number of things during the holidays. How our homes look, how much fancy cooking we do, even how we or others will behave. It’s OK to expect to have some special moments during this festive season. Just try not to expect everything to go perfectly. Don’t expect Uncle Elmo to suddenly become the warm fuzzy of the family when he’s more likely to be the Grinch, or that the cat won’t climb the Christmas tree and break at least one ornament. I speak from experience.

4. Take care of your health. Don’t skimp on sleep, vegetables, or exercise. A few late nights or an extra piece of pie will be much easier to recover from if you maintain your basic health habits. And I’m sorry, but pumpkin pie doesn’t count as a vegetable.

5. Choose one or two special holiday rituals and let the rest go. I know there are tempting experiences around every corner, but you’ll just make yourself crazy if you try to do them all.

6. Focus on what you want to celebrate. Being together? Gratitude? Your personal religious tradition? Your child’s (or grandchild’s) first holiday? The fact that it’s cool outside and you don’t have to run the AC on Thanksgiving Day this year? There is always something to celebrate and something to be grateful for.

7. Develop your sense of humor, and don’t take everything so seriously. It’s not the end of the world when the squirrels eat your holiday pumpkin display on the front porch, for example.



I’m going to try to follow my own advice, and make this a happy—not harried—holiday season. How about you?

What special holiday experiences do you look forward to every year?

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2 comments

  1. Very fine list. This time of year always seemed to encourage junk eating and drinking. What a difference it makes, taking care of one's health. I like the simplify one too...letting the business go...

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    Replies
    1. It can certainly be challenging to walk the line of enjoying festivities and overdoing, or using the season as an excuse to lose all self-control (again, I speak from experience--haha). I wish you a happy, beautiful, festive holiday season with just the right amount of celebrating!

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