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It’s no secret that the holidays are a busy time of the year. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and get stressed to the max. 69% of people report they are stressed during the holidays due to lack of time. 51% of people are stressed out about the pressure to get gifts. You can have at least 10+ events for your holiday season just over the span of a few weeks.
When you add in having a child with special needs and throwing your normal routines out the window, it can be a recipe for disaster. What if I told you it’s possible to enjoy the holidays again and manage your stress? Yes, it is possible. You can manage your sanity during the holidays and have a great Christmas.
This post is the seventh post in a 7-part series called Ditching the Holiday Overwhelm. Here are the other posts:
19 ways to manage your sanity during the holidays:
1. Know it’s okay to say no.
Just because someone asks you to an event or to buy a gift, doesn’t mean you have to say yes. You can say no. It’s okay and the world will not come to an end. It doesn’t make you a bad person either. Just say no.
2. Focus on the present
Don’t multitask. Focus on the present moment. It’s easy to get distracted by focusing on marking off every item on your to-do list. Focusing on the present movement makes us happier and reduces stress.
3. Set constraints
Constraints are limitations or restrictions (according to Google). I like to think of them as rules. They say what you are or aren’t going to do ahead of time. They help you from making decisions in the moment. It’s easier to decide ahead of time without all of the drama instead of waiting to decide in the moment.
Examples of holiday constraints:
- We stay at home on Christmas day and don’t go to any events.
- We don’t go to more than 2 places a day.
- We will be at home by 8 to get the kids to bed at a decent hour.
- We will not host any holiday events at our house this year.
4. Create boundaries
Boundaries are a line that marks the limits of an area (according to Google). Most people get boundaries and constraints mixed up. Boundaries are like an “if-then” statement.
- If you come over to my house unannounced, I won’t answer the door.
- If you try to tear me down about my parenting skills, we will leave your house.
- If you are late for lunch, I will leave the restaurant.
Dr. Henry Cloud talks about boundaries in his book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life. It is amazing. If you think you might have an issue with boundaries, I urge you to read this book. It was recommended to me by my therapist and was a game-changer for me.
Here are some signs you may have a boundary problem with someone:
- If the relationship doesn’t feel safe.
- It feels like a game.
- They constantly try to change you.
- If they are gaslighting (a form of emotional abuse where they make you question what happened, etc.)
- You justify someone else’s bad behavior.
If you feel like any of these apply to you, I strongly urge you to get the book. You can even listen on Amazon Audible while you’re in the car.
5. Create a plan
1 minute of planning saves you 10 minutes of execution. When you plan, you can put things you want to do on the calendar. This will help you avoid double-booking yourself or getting too busy. Time blocking is a great way to start planning your time.
6. Create a Christmas budget
Most people don’t save for Christmas and get stressed out about money during the holidays. About 68% of Americans put over half of their holiday spending on a credit card. Then they are stressed at Christmas AND afterward too. Creating a budget isn’t hard. There is a Christmas budget sheet to walk you through the process in the free 2020 Holiday Planner. You can grab your copy here.
7. Keep things as normal as possible
You don’t have to ditch your routines during the holidays. You can do a simple routine on the busy days and keep your normal routine on the other days. Routines are great for children. They love the predictability and structure. It helps establish expectations and create a calmer household. The biggest myth people have about routines is that they’re supposed to be set in stone. Routines are meant to work with your life and not against it. They are meant to change as your needs and seasons of life change.
Get your sleep. Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. This helps improve health, cognitive function, mood, and more. You owe it to yourself and others to get a great night’s sleep.
9. Ask for help
It’s okay to ask for help. I repeat it’s okay to ask for help. It doesn’t make you a bad person, mother, or wife. Just ask for help.
10. Limit social media
Social media can bring up a lot of emotions. It can bring up comparison syndrome. It can make you feel like what you have and do isn’t good enough. It’s also full of opinions that you may or may not agree with that only add to the stress. Social media consumption can put a damper on anyone’s mood.
You just see what people post on their social media accounts. You don’t see the behind the scenes. You are just seeing their highlight reels NOT their real lives. You can quit it cold turkey or you can set a time to check it twice a day for 15 minutes each. Whatever you decide, limiting social media for any length of time can do wonders for your mood.
11. It’s okay to not be okay
Life is 50/50. 50% of the time you feel good emotions and the other time you feel 50% negative emotions. It’s part of life. You can remind yourself when you feel down that it’s just a moment and it’s okay. You don’t have to feel amazing and positive emotions all of the time. Think about it, if we were happy all of the time, we wouldn’t have anything to compare it to. How would we know we were even happy? Would we even know what happiness is?
12. Set aside worry time
If you find yourself worrying, stop. Set time aside to worry. When you’re in the moment, say “I’m not going to think about that right now, I will worry about it when it’s time”. This sounds so simple and possibly crazy, but it works. Just decide that at 2 pm, you’re going to worry about 15 minutes. It’s that simple.
13. Lower your expectations
Stop thinking everything and everyone has to be perfect. Lower your expectations. Be realistic. If you know your toddler naps every day from 12-2 and you are going to someone’s house for Christmas dinner at 1, prepare yourself. They might be feisty and fighting their sleep. There might be a meltdown. It’s normal. It’s okay. It doesn’t make you a bad mom.
You can try to work around it.
Just come up with some ideas like:
- Letting your child start their nap earlier in the day
- If they are willing, you can lay them down to finish their nap at your friend’s house.
- You and your husband take turns holding them while they nap and the other one eats.
Sometimes we, (myself included) fight with reality and it makes for a big mess. We expect our toddler to be an angel during naptime while they’re not sleeping. That is an unrealistic expectation. Everything’s not going to be perfect 24/7 and that’s okay. I love this quote from Byron Katie about reality.
“When you argue with reality you lose- but only 100% of the time.” – Byron Katie
14. Know your thoughts create your reality
Your thoughts create your reality. This means that whatever your thoughts are determining how you feel. If you feel yucky or bad, it’s because your thoughts are negative and yucky.
I like this quote from Brooke Castillo: “All of your thoughts are choices”.
You get to determine what you focus on and what you think about it. Don’t be judgmental about your thoughts, just realize they create your perception of the things around you. You can choose to believe that things are working in your favor or the world is out to get you. Both of the thoughts would cause you to have different feelings. Just be aware of what you’re thinking and realize they are choices and dictate your feelings.
15. Do random acts of kindness
The world needs more kindness. Doing a random act of kindness will put a smile on someone’s face and it will be contagious. You can do simple acts of kindness like paying for the order behind you in the drive-thru or even complimenting someone. It just might make someone’s day.
16. Create your holiday traditions
Create your own Christmas bucket list or traditions this holiday season. This post will help give you some ideas. You can even stop doing some traditions you don’t like. The choice is yours. You can create new traditions with your family.
17. Schedule downtime
This is something that is strange for mothers. You go, go, go, go, and go. You never take time for yourself. You never take time to just sit down and relax a second. You need rest and relaxation time. When you schedule it, you don’t feel as guilty for stopping and catching your breath. It also forces you to do it too.
Write down all of your thoughts in a journal. It’s very therapeutic. It can change your thoughts. Sometimes we’re just feeling bad and can’t explain it. But when we stop and put pen to paper and write down all of your thoughts, it helps you realize what you’re thinking. When you know what you’re thinking you can decide to keep thinking these thoughts or change them. Oftentimes when you write down your thoughts, you can realize your perception of a situation isn’t true and it can turn your sour mood around immediately.
19. Gratitude journal
Start a gratitude journal. This isn’t the same as just jotting down your thoughts. This is thinking about what you’re grateful for. It can be deeper things like I’m thankful for being a mom, but it can also be other things. Like- I’m grateful for my house and for my car I drive. It can be whatever you think. Practicing gratitude and contentment will help your mood anytime.
You can maintain your sanity during the holidays. You don’t have to dread Christmas anymore. You can enjoy the holidays and keep your sanity. You get to choose what Christmas looks like for you. You get to decide because you’re an adult. You get to say no to initiations without the guilt and shame. You can ditch the overwhelm of the holiday season and fall in love with the holidays again. It’s up to you.
If you are ready to ditch your holiday overwhelm and plan the Christmas of your dreams, you need the 2020 Holiday Planner. There are over 20 pages of printables to help you design the Christmas of your dreams and ditch the overwhelm this holiday season. The best part is that it is free!! You can sign-up HERE or use the form below.