We are quickly approaching Halloween and my list of things to do is overwhelming. I will fully admit, most of this is by my own choice. I'd rather be busy than bored but I am starting to wonder if maybe I went a bit overboard. Here's a small example of what my week looks like:
Monday: Cooking all day at school (believe me – this should be noted). Youngest has a double dance practice to decide if we want to switch her classes.
Tuesday: Serving the people that we cooked for the whole school day then volleyball game that I have to work the concession stand at since I am a junior class sponsor. Prom is important, Y'all.
Wednesday: My mother flies in at noon but I won't see her until after school or, well, after our youngest gets out of ballet. Oh and between school and ballet? Culinary Competition Team (I wouldn't trade this for anything, love my students)
Thursday: Hip Hop after school, then straight to Cake Decorating Classes for me. I also have school work to turn in tonight (I'm in graduate school).
Friday: Pretty quiet day, I think the girls, mom, and I are going to a trunk or treat around town that night.
Saturday: Cake Pop Class, fun with my family, then the oldest has a Halloween/Birthday party to attend.
Sunday: American Girl Halloween Event, PJ and Cookie photo shoot with my mom and girls.
I hear that people lead lives like this on a regular basis…. shoot, how do those moms and dads' feel like they get a minute to themselves. Aren't they stressed?
If you are reading this, chances are you are wondering the same thing. So here is a list of about fifteen different things you can do to keep your stress level down during the holiday season.
Keeping Stress Levels Down
1. Listen to Good Music
Working with teenagers, I see how music affects them. I have had a class that I've caught a few of them dancing on my tables (oh, yes, they got in trouble) and then the same class has heard a song that brought out their life stories, filled with lots of tears.
Likewise, music has a great chance to take you wherever it is you need to go. Had a really bad day and just want to cry? Find the song that puts you on the edge of tears on a happy day and cry it out?
Maybe your feeling like a smile despite that frown? Then play songs such as “SMILE” by Vitamin C or, if you're anything like my family, Christmas music. We don't just like the traditional stuff but the off the wall unique stuff, such as “Christmas this Year” by Toby Mac or “12 Days of Christmas” by Straight No Chasers.
2. Acknowledge Your Feelings
Don't pretend you are happy just to keep those around you happy. You need to have someone to vent to, to tell them how you feel.
In case you cannot tell, my family (well, my girls and I) love Christmas to the core. For a while, we rode the city bus and got close to our bus drivers. One of the bus drivers informed us that while she loved Halloween, she despised Christmas. She couldn't put her finger on it but it just made her sad.
I never looked down at her because of it, instead, I helped her get through it the best way I knew how. Likewise, if you have a reason for not liking Christmas, just tell them. If you don't have a reason, tell them anyway. You might be surprised to find you are not alone.
3. Schedule Your Time Wisely
I have a feeling this is going to be crucial to me. The girls and I carry Happy Planners that has a dual purpose for me. I use it as a planner and when an important event is over, I take the pictures and turn the planner into a scrapbook. All of my senior picture cards, prom invitations, ticket stubs, etc… are in the planner as well.
One thing I purchase to go with my planner is inserts where I have an hour by hour countdown so on the days I know there is a chance I will be overwhelmed, I can write everything down.
Likewise, writing things down in a manner that works for you is crucial. Maybe it's a planner or maybe it's a notebook with random scratching as you remember it. It might also be that you put it in Google Calendar so you have it on the computer, on your phone or where ever else you need it. Either way, find what works for you and go with that.
4. Accept that You Cannot Control Everything
We must understand that not everything is going to go as planned. Sometimes the milkshakes spill, sometimes we plan to have a baking day and our kids want to hang at our feet. Plan the best you can but plan for the mistakes and don't stress the small stuff.
5. Learn to Say No
This is a big one during the holiday season. There is so much fun stuff to do and you might have several different invitations but you have to say no at some point. It is best for you and that is best for your family.
6. Don't Abandon Your Healthy Ways
It is so easy in the hustle and bustle of the year's close, to head over to Starbucks, get a Peppermint Mocha (or a Chestnut Praline Latte), and muffin, not stopping to think about what you are placing in your mouth. Only to eat cookies at a party later that night.
I'm not saying don't eat anything that we deem unhealthy, I'm saying try to eat healthy eighty percent of the time. Stick with what you are already eating during the year. Then it won't be as bad when you cannot resist that sugar loaded coffee drink.
7. Mis En Place
Mis en Place is a culinary term meaning, “Everything in its place”. Before my students start cooking they are required to gather their ingredients and the tools they need to get the job done. This way they don't have to stop mid-way through cooking to get something. When you only have forty-five minutes to be completely finished, every second count.
Although I hope you have more time when you are baking this holiday, you still need to have everything out and ready to go, to relieve a little bit of the stress.
Likewise, taking all the dishes out of the dishwasher (or strainer), putting them away, and running a sink full of warm soapy water before you get started is a great idea. This way you can clean as you go.
8. Be Grateful
My girls are tweens and both have the tendency to be very negative sometimes, especially towards each other. Since the Happy Planners give us three sections for each day, I make them use their bottom one to write three things they are thankful for. The first one must be about their sibling and the other two they get to choose. This has done wonders for them.
Taking a few minutes out of each day to remember what you are thankful for is a great way to step out of the holiday moment that is causing you the stress and remember what is truly important.
Want to take it a step further? If it is a person, write them a note and tell them why you are thankful for them. This way two people get to smile!
9. Shop Online
From November 15th to January 15th I don't really like going shopping. Not even grocery shopping. There are too many people out for my taste and I'm a people-person! My husband is not, so that means that we pretty well avoid the mall or anywhere similar other than to get the necessities.
I do go Black Friday Shopping but I wait until midday and plan for the long lines. Typically my girls go with me and I tell them to walk away if I plan to purchase for them.
One thing that can create a whole lot less stress and one thing I plan to implement this year, is purchasing products online. I will probably have my girls go to their favorite clothing stores and try stuff on before November 15th and I will mark it down, then purchase it online.
10. Get a Move On
I was thinking of the song, “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” when I saw this picture.
While I may not be wanting you to head to your nearest Santa land, it is still a great idea to get out and get walking. Being stuck inside because of the cold can cause a lot of people to have the winter blues.
I am one of those people. It doesn't normally hit me until late in winter but you can almost bet I get depressed thinking about all the stuff I want to be doing but “can't”. The reason for this is because I don't like the cold so I “can't” go outside for long and get my daily dose of Vitamin D.
Getting outside and walking or just feeling the sun on your face can really perk you up. Research has shown that eating citrus fruit can do the same thing, but I believe this is related to the fact that it reminds us of warm air and ocean breezes.
11. Know Your Cellphone's Place
One of the hardest parts of this time of year is comparing ourselves to others. It is as if we are reliving an online version of the Grinch when Cindy Loo-Who's mom is jealous of the neighbor lady's decorations. Likewise, we can get jealous of what other people are doing over the holidays.
If you need to, use your phone to take pictures and delete the Facebook app in order to not compare yourself every few minutes or so.
Don't delete Snapchat though! You cannot see the pictures of others if you don't have the app. Make it a priority to only look at it once a day though.
12. Take a Break
I chose this picture because this is my absolute favorite way to de-stress. Do what you need to do to take time for yourself. I read an article that recommended you set aside one day for yourself. Get a babysitter or do what it is you need to do and accomplish the things on your to-do list that you are worried about.
For me, taking the time to take a bath is my time to think about what I want to do when I get out, what needs to be done. To think about future plans and how each step gets me to a new and exciting stage in my life. It's a chance to reflect. So long as my girls stay out of the bathroom!
13. Make a Budget
Business Insider reported that the most stressful thing to Americans is money. So, create a budget for the holiday season and don't go over it. If you think this is something you will struggle with, get an accountability partner.
And now I will go eat my words… off to find an accountability partner.
14. Take Time to Truly Connect with Your Loved Ones
Hi! I'm back.
And now we are talking about spending time with the ones you love. The beginning lyrics to Three Doors Down's ‘Right Where I Belong' has never rung so true as it does today. It says, “There's a difference in spending time with me and killing time while I'm there.”
How many times do we say “Oh I'm hanging out with XYZ” only to mean the two of you are on your phones and not really interacting. This goes back to number eleven. Put the phone down and truly connect with those around you. Set a coffee date. You'll be surprised what it will do for you.
15. Wrapping It Up – Have Some Fun
Live life. Remember that this time of the year will come and go before you know. If it is something small you're stressing about then take a deep breath and find a way to get away for a bit if you need to. If you know this is not your favorite season, then this too shall pass my friend. Figure out a way to make it work. This is the one life you have to live – live it up!