1. Stop multi-tasking. Because it’s also the most distracting time of the year, and attention shrinks in direct proportion to the growth of peoples’ “to do” list. That’s why it’s vitally important that you work hard to focus, and this means doing one thing at a time. This is especially relevant when you’re driving a car. When you get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, you have one job: operate the vehicle safely so you can reach your destination without harming yourself or others. We love to say this to teenagers when we’re reluctant to hand over the car keys but folks, it applies to everybody. I don’t care how long you’ve been driving; you’re never so good at it that you can afford to go on auto-pilot. The #1 way to ruin the holiday season is to have a wreck, and they tend to be messy and involve many unpleasant things this time of year, so don’t go there. If you’re driving, just drive. Work out your schedule, to do list, chores, errands, arguments, plans, schemes, plots, problems, emotional drama, and the rest of your world when you get home.
2.Take care of yourself first. Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep and take your medication. For some reason, people think skipping their meds this time of year is a good idea. It’s not. Your doctor put you on them because you need them to function at your best, so walk away from the computer right now to see if you need refills and put them in! I know you’re busy, but don’t skip on yourself. You’re no good to anybody if you break down (mentally or physically) in the middle of it all. Take it from the girl that was knocked out with the flu a week after Thanksgiving last year – the time and effort to take care of yourself is the most worthy investment you can make.
3. Schedule time for nothing. You aren’t obligated to get caught up in the whirlwind pace of life right now. In fact, it’s best if you don’t. Keep a handle on your schedule and make sure there are some empty blocks on there for you to take down the pace and rest at least a couple of times a week. I know it’s tough because everything is active, but it’s perfectly acceptable to decline an invitation, and there are polite ways to do it. Simply say “thank you for thinking of me, but I can’t make it to this event.” You don’t have to give a doctoral dissertation on why.
4. Keep it simple. Utilize the tips from my last entry to take advantage of ways to save time, energy, and money this holiday season and only “do up” matters the most. Decorate, gift, cook, and celebrate based on what matters the most to you. For example, if it’s about getting everybody together, then coordinate schedules and plans and ask for help with gifts and meals. If you prefer getting nice gifts, then focus on shopping for perfect gifts and just put up a small tree. If the meals matter, then peruse the grocery store ads and cookbooks for the perfect recipes, ingredients, and prices, and do your Christmas shopping on the Amazon Black Friday sales (which are supposed to be awesome and start TODAY, by the way). You can’t do it all, so don’t try. It’s better to be awesome at one thing than frazzled over a million.
5. Buy a small gift for yourself. This is one I stumbled upon by accident years ago when I picked up a holiday music CD on a sale rack while shopping. When Rick asked where I got it, I told him it was a gift to myself because I didn’t have any holiday music for my car yet. He thought it was a good idea, and it started a tradition of buying one small thing for yourself that others aren’t likely to get for you. I’ve picked up books, lotions and shower gels, costume jewelry, small electronics, and snow domes since that holiday music CD set my personal tradition. You’d be amazed at how much joy one thing under $20 can bring you. Reward yourself in a small, personal way to stay motivated on the journey through the season.
6. Ground your expectations. Remember that we’re all human beings, and as such “the perfect holiday” isn’t possible. Schedules clash, finances are limited, cooking is an inexact science, the weather can turn with little or no notice, clothes wear out, pets poop on your carpet, lights burn out, things sell out, people argue, germs spread, flights are delayed, traffic is bad right when you don’t need it, accidents happen – the point is that chaos happens. It’s the nature of the universe. The holidays come every year, so there will be good ones and bad ones. The past is gone and will never come back, the future isn’t here yet, so we have to work with the present. Trust that it will work out, do your best, and let it go. Holiday season or not, tomorrow is a new day. Do what you can with this one, plan the best you can, and believe in the promise that it will all work out for good if you walk in true faith and act in wisdom.
7. Buy a gift for someone in need or volunteer. There's always a lot of need out there, and the holidays are a perfect time to share your abundance with those who can give back nothing but gratitude. Even dropping a few dollars in the Salvation Army buckets helps. Do one small thing to help somebody that needs it and can't reciprocate. You'd be amazed at how good it feels, and what great energy it brings into your life.
I hope these tips are helpful in preparing for another round of holiday fun! Take care, and have a great weekend.