Thoughtful Thursday – Beating the Hustle, Bustle, and Holiday Blues

Bah Humbug Greeting Card Set by SimplyInvitingCards

It’s almost inevitable: you’re excited about the holidays the week before Thanksgiving, and it all goes downhill after Black Friday. You’re sick of the Christmas music, the commercials, the crowds, the endless scramble for gifts. You just want to lock yourself in the house with leftovers until the new year. Unless you’ve mastered the art of not freaking out during the holidays, you may not realize that it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some tips for keeping the rest of your holidays merry and bright:

1.  Reconsider the gifts. If you have a huge family, do gifts “secret Santa” style, where everyone draws one name from the hat, and gets a gift or two for that person only; you can also try just giving gifts to the kids. If it’s too late for that, get or make gifts in bulk. Everyone likes food, so if it’s already a tradition to bake goodies this time of year, make a bunch of them, wrap them with a little ribbon, and give them to friends and family. If you must go shopping, try getting all of your gifts in one or two places, plan the best route, or shop online. Another option is the “trading” system. For example, this year, I babysat a friend’s kids in exchange for an Avon order. I didn’t have to go to a store, and I enjoyed watching the kids! If you’ve already gotten your gifts taken care of (good for you!) consider one of these options next year.

2. Remember the reason for the season. Everyone knows it’s not about the gifts and decorations, but it’s easy to forget. By simplifying the gift-giving with the examples above, and accepting the fact that not everything will go according to plan, you can concentrate on spending time with your family and friends and reflecting on what the season is really about.

3. Take time to really give. Volunteer your time. It’s likely that there’s a local shelter near you – a veterans’ shelter, an animal shelter, a women’s shelter … find a cause that’s close to your heart, and spend some time helping out this season. Despite what you think, you do have time. It will remind you of the reason for the season, and how true the old saying is: “It is better to give than to receive.”

4. Take some time for yourself. It doesn’t mean a day at the spa, or a day dedicated to the golf course (but if you have the time, go for it!) It just means taking fifteen minutes out of your day to do nothing, to read, to take a bubble bath, or pray or meditate. It also means taking care of yourself! Be sure to exercise – do something as simple as going for a brisk walk – and eat as well as you can. If you’re responsible for preparing a dish, make sure it’s chock-full of veggies, fruit, or try a healthier version of an old standard. Keep indulgence portions small, and you’ll be grateful for your waistline and sanity later.

Finally, on a more serious note, if you know you struggle with depression around this time of year – it’s super common and you are not alone – find a counselor or support group to help get you through. The holidays can be really rough if you’ve lost someone you love, moved away from home, or had another big event in your life happen around these few months. That plus the lack of daylight hours and the expectations of the holidays can really bring you down. Be honest with your family and friends that you’re having a hard time, and let them know what they can do to help, even if it’s just to quit asking “Are you OK?”

Merry Christmas and happy new year!

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