Work parties, family gatherings, shopping lists, cookie exchanges, toy drives, home decorating, airport lines, holiday cards- the to-do list around this time of year is more daunting than it is cheerful. The holidays are a notoriously stressful time for everyone, and it often seems like all of the good habits we work so hard to accrue throughout the rest of the year - healthy diet, eight hours of sleep, exercise, “me-time” are thrown out the frost-colored windows as soon as the twinkle lights are turned on. Between all of the holiday activities and obligations (not to mention the year-round, everyday responsibilities) it seems easiest to forgo personal health between Thanksgiving and New Years.
But here’s the thing, the holidays are stressful enough, and when we put ourselves last on our lists we don’t even give ourselves the chance to combat the stress of the season. Sabotaging self-care sets ourselves up for a less enjoyable, more distressing season. Honestly, 2016 has been tough enough, and we all owe it to ourselves to at least try to enjoy the hap-hap-happiest time of the year.
All season long we’ll be proving tips and tricks to help you maintain your merry spirit with meditation and a bit of mindfulness. First up? How to handle holiday shopping without losing your spirit.
For something meant to spread joy and cheer, gift-giving can result in a lot of mental anguish. Follow these tips to stay stress-free:
Make a List (Check it Twice)
Seriously, list-making can save your sanity this season. There’s nothing worse than wandering aimlessly around a packed mall looking for a spark of inspiration for the perfect gift for you mom, dad, brother and sister-in-law. Make your life easy and travel with a list in tow. Heading into a holiday shopping trip without a concrete plan in place is when everything goes off kilter; we blow our budgets and have a difficult time feeling satisfied with the selections we’ve made - thus triggering the ultimate holiday scrooge: buyer’s remorse. Go into your shopping trips with a few possibilities for each person on your list to save time, money and your mind.
Throw Out Perfection
First thing's first: get the idea of a perfect gift out of your head, because there’s no such thing. Heading into a holiday shopping trip with expectations of perfection is setting yourself up for disappointment and, (yep, you guessed it) stress.
Eliminate unnecessary stress triggers for yourself. Do you hate wrapping presents, but feel like you have to because everyone in your family shows up with a stack of gifts that look straight out of the latest Martha Stewart Living volume?Then give yourself permission to opt out of this year’s under-the-tree competition. Plus, no one ever complains about a free reusable gift bag...just sayin’. Or maybe you absolutely cannot stand the process of buying gifts for everyone on your list. Relieve yourself of the unnecessary pressure and opt for gift cards. Giving your aunt a gift card to her favorite store likely won’t elicit any complaints - just include a handwritten, heartfelt note for good measure.
Last, but certainly not least, remember why you dragged yourself to an overcrowded mall in the first place: to celebrate your loved ones. When your shopping to-do's seem insurmountable and that check-out line doesn't seem to be moving, take a minute to pause and focus on the people you're buying for. Choosing to focus on people, instead of things will help you keep your perspective (and cheer) this holiday season.
Remember to Breathe
Next Up: Navigating Holiday Travel Without Going Off the Rails.