Envision last year’s holiday activities. If you immediately recall running errands, reprimanding the children for misbehaving, frantically trying to clean and cook for holiday parties and rushing around shopping for gifts, consider yourself a member of the Too Busy to Enjoy the Holidays Club (TBEHC).
A friend and I invented this club many years ago, during a hyper-hectic holiday season. We were in the midst of an overcrowded, overheated mall, trying to help my friend’s 8-year-old twins find the perfect gifts for their relatives, friends and teachers. One twin was trying to persuade us to buy him “just a few” gigantic sugar cookies. The other was crying because Mom refused to let her buy a make-up kit for her 3-year-old cousin, and I was battling the warning signs of a migraine.
“Stop!” my friend suddenly said, standing absolutely still. “We are going home. Now.” And so we headed home, where we actually enjoyed our time. I remember that afternoon, with the twins cuddled up on the couch to draw pictures for their aunts and uncles. My friend and I relaxed on the recliners, watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” on TV and contemplating how to resign from the TBEHC.
If you’re ready to join us as ex-members of that society, try these relaxing tips this holiday season:
1. Instead of a “To Do” list, make a “No Need to Do” list.
Go through every activity you have scheduled this season, and all the tasks you feel you “should” do. Now figure out the distinction between what you really want to do, and what you actually do not have to do.
For example, let’s say you have been asked to contribute cookies for a church holiday coffee. You had planned to bake them “from scratch” – and that task is something you dread each year. No one (repeat, no one!) will know or care if you purchase those cookies from a wonderful bakery and put them on a pretty holiday plate. Look for other ways to skip activities that you find stressful, and put them all on your “No Need to Do” list. Now take a deep breath of relaxation!
2. Create a holiday fitness schedule for yourself, and see if you can persuade a friend or family member to join you.
Gyms are traditionally increasingly less crowded as the holidays draw near, and classes such as yoga and dance also become less frequently attended. Go against the trend by making this holiday season your time to get healthy and get your glow on with regular fitness.
Aim for three sessions a week, and mix them up to keep your interest level high. Try yoga on Mondays, spin class on Wednesdays and a hike with a friend on Fridays, for example. Exercise is not just good for your body. It’s also good for your mind, and it will help you relax. And if you think you don’t have time, just look at all those activities on your list of “don’ts”!
3. Create new, relaxing traditions for you and your loved ones.
You don’t have to wait for New Year’s Day to make an “out with the old, in with the new” resolution. Discuss with your family and/or friends some ways to relax this year during the holidays.
For example, consider spending an afternoon to making your own ornaments, from popcorn on a string, to paper chains, to already-baked cookies that you and your children ice and decorate for your tree.
Start a new tradition during the holidays of spending every Sunday afternoon in a no-technology zone. Play board games, do a giant puzzle, head outside for a hike or sing Christmas carols. The only rules: no TV, no PC, no cell phones and no DVDs. Got a fireplace? Fulfill your go-green quota by turning off the lights and enjoying firelight.
Look for ways to volunteer as a group. You could go Christmas caroling at a retirement home (be sure to ask for permission) or combine exercise with giving by volunteering at a local animal shelter to walk the dogs. Give back to experience the true joy of the giving season.