What if I told you you could be stress free? This time of year is always so busy, and if you’re like me, you just pack it on like it ain’t no thang. But it is.
Guess what, it is a thang. Adding to the stress level of an already stressful holiday season, is a horrible idea. My best friend and I were trying to plan our Friendsgiving and Friendsmas celebration dinners (where we go to each others’ house and have each holiday dinner together as one big ol’ family and let the kids run around and play and just be together) and we are both basically fully booked on weekends until after Christmas. As I write this, it’s early November. Truth be told, not only am I losing it from October-December, but it comes in waves of craziness all year long.
Have you ever stopped to think we create our own stress? I just discovered Life in Grace and her glorious FB Live videos (thank you Sarah!!), where she was discussing how we manifest our own stress (among so many other fabulous points). After I stopped to think about it, I can safely say that in one way or another, I certainly make my own stress. Whether it’s due do poor time management and prioritizing, or just not knowing when enough is enough, or thinking I can do it all (I cannot)… it will sometimes turn into an insurmountable heap of unnecessary stress. And when it does, it steals the joy out of everything. It turns the tasks of love (like planning a party), into one thing to check off the to-do list. Who wants to see a birthday party as just one thing on a list of to-do’s? No one. We want to enjoy the event, and dare I say the planning parts too.
When I need to get stress free (read: quit manifesting my own stress):
I will make a list of tasks I need to do.
You probably have an endless list of to-do’s and to-go’s in your brain, which is very stressful when it’s just swirling around. When I feel myself starting to stress out, it’s often because I’m not organized. There’s no organization to all the stuff.
I like to grab a notebook, post-it, paper, chalkboard, whatever – and just start to write a big ol’ list. Once my list of: who needs a show and tell item, when is school store day, when is pretzel day, what letter day is it at school, does Lilly need sparring gear this week, if so – clean it because it stinks, what rogue groceries do I need, when is that blog post due, event tasks, holiday activities, doctors appointments, volunteer commitments, donations to bring to schools – is out of my brain, and on paper, I feel tremendously better.
From there, I will sort the list and put things on my calendars, and prioritize the list. My friend Sarah at 1915 House has shown me how the basics of how she bullet journals – and it is so simplified. I am so excited to try this out! I’m forever writing things in a notebook, but its usually just flipping through pages, getting annoyed.
I religiously cut the clutter, literally with trash bags and boxes.
When there is stuff everywhere, I’m guaranteed to lose it. I notice things getting out of control when life gets busy, and I start getting unorganized in other areas, or when I pile on the commitments.
I did White House Black Shutters #40BagsIn40Days challenge last year, and it was amazing. I decluttered over 40 bags of random stuff, and felt such a calm after selling, donating, or recycling things we didn’t use or want, and clothes and toys the kids had outgrown. I noticed my stress level drop and the kids were able to keep their playroom cleaner. The “I have no idea where this toy goes, so logically, it must go on the floor” agony was over.
Their toys seemed to multiply like little bunnies. Those LOL Surprise Dolls and Hot Wheels all get together and manifest more, regardless of being a family who buys toys two times a years. It’s insane. When they were all younger, I used to divide toys and rotate them out every few months, so it was like a fresh batch of things. Now, they just have much less, so I don’t need to rotate them out as much and they seem to play with mostly everything. As I find things they’re not enjoying anymore, I convince them to donate it. If it’s something they love and don’t want to part with, we make due – we played Candy Land last night with a lego, Barbie brush, and a My Little Pony to mark our spaces, and half the cards. Such is life.
I will simplify my calendar and schedule.
You do not have to attend all the holiday events in your town, or go to all the holiday shows. The truly important things you want to go to, put them on the calendar. When the kids have their school concerts, or parades, or whatever super fun exciting event scheduled, make those the priority instead of just another thing to tackle. They’ll feel the love, and you will too! The extra events that you feel yourself trying to cram in just to go, skip them. Events that will end up being more work and unnecessary stress (that you’re creating yourself) than it’s worth, skip it. Your family (and your sanity) will thank you!
I set a timer.
Time management is a beast, isn’t he? If all I have to do is clean 2 bathrooms and vacuum a few rooms, that could take 3 days or 25 minutes. Lisa at The Purple Hydrangea told me how she uses the Pomodoro Technique. It sounds super fancy, but it’s not. Here’s how to do it: set a timer for 25 minutes, and focus on only that task for the time, take a 5 minute break, repeat. I use this no less than 954 times a day, and Lilly (age 7) sets her adorable cat timer to get dressed in the morning for school, brush her teeth (for the whole 2 minutes), do homework, clean her room, and all sorts of things. It’s great for time management of tasks that are torturous (like laundry). When you’re staring down the long list of things to do, and only have an hour, set a timer and get to work, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish, and stay stress free!
I will set aside time to take care of myself. Well, I try to.
I am the queen of trying to pour from an empty cup. I am also the queen of not taking care of myself, ever. I cannot be bothered with getting a shower or, there is laundry to fold. How silly does that sound? I’ve literally said this to myself a few times. This sounds really dumb, considering the laundry never gets folded entirely. I want to paint my nails/do my caterpillar eyebrows/exfoliate my face/go for a walk/make a doctor appointment/read a book/color in my Bible/drink hot coffee… but I have to do whatever-never-ending-chore-is-looming.
You think you have no time, but you have to make time. You cannot pour into your family and home, if your cup is empty. Mind you, I am preaching to the choir here. I am amazingly awful at this concept of self-care.
Those dishes can actually sit in the sink for 20 minutes while you go for a walk, do yoga, or paint your nails. The laundry can stay in the dryer while you get a bubble bath and de-stress. My sister in law told me she gets a bubble bath every night! Revelations, folks.
The kids will survive outside playing, while I shut the kitchen door to have a cup of coffee and color a page in my Bible (which I literally haven’t done since I flew to Haven, a blogging conference this summer), read a magazine or a few pages in a book, or just sit quietly with hot coffee.
Wait, what’s hot coffee?
I am working on this, and the more mindful I am about it, the easier it gets.
that’s all good, but can I really stay stress free around the holidays?
Yes you can. I’m consciously trying to make stress non-issue this holiday season, because it steals the joy from things that we really love doing. I will not stress over an apple pie. I will not stress over a perfectly clean house for company. I will not stress over people, events, or shopping. The holiday season is meant for families, blessings, joy, and friendships. Not a home made apple pie. Not shopping. Not an overly packed calendar. Not a perfectly clean house. Just the things we love.
No one loves stress, so don’t bring that for the holidays. People do love you and the joy you bring them, so bring those instead.