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How to Create a Meaningful and Healthy Holiday

Its that time again when you are not only busy with work, but you also have the busyness of the holidays added on. Do you feel OVERLOAD and OVERWHELM taking over? I have been busily presenting programs on how to cope with all of the this and thought I would share some of the tips that might help you out right now. And even if it might be too late to change anything this year, it might be a useful proactive reminder as you look ahead to next year. My favorite “tried and true” resource is Jean Coppock Staeheli and Jo Robinson’s book Unplug the Christmas Machine – and that title says it all!

First let’s set the stage with some “Grinchy” holiday blues issues outlined from WebMD.

Fatigue: As if you weren’t already too busy, now you have to fit in all the holiday prep and there is only a certain number of hours in the day. How is that affecting your ability to get the rest you need?

Financial Stress: The “average” amount of money being spent this year on Christmas presents is $794 – or more. Are you prepared for that?

Unrealistic Expectations: Are you trying to create a “perfect” holiday celebration like the advertisers portray it and you are coming up short? What is real for you?

Over-Commercialism: Are you caught up in the shopping frenzy and just buying whatever is on sale just so you have gifts to give? How meaningful are those gifts for the person receiving them?

Inability to Be with Your Family or Friends: For whatever reason, are you not able to be with those you care about? How is that affecting your ability to enjoy the holidays?

Stress: Too much to cope with and not being able to really enjoy the true meaning of Christmas? What does Christmas really mean for you?

Now let’s begin with a simple assessment of who is doing what during the holidays.

Look over the list below and cross out any preparations that are not likely to be part of your holiday celebration this year. Add any that have been overlooked.

¨ creating the gift list ¨ putting up inside decorations

¨ buying stocking stuffers ¨ putting up outside decorations

¨ preparing for holiday travel ¨ planning a holiday party for friends

¨ making family advent preparations ¨ inviting friends to the party

¨ shopping for the party writing notes on cards

¨ making or buying stockings ¨ cleaning for the party

¨ buying or making cards ¨ volunteering for charity

¨ making travel plans ¨ cooking for the party

¨ helping out at church cleaning up after the party

¨ helping out at school ¨ buying or cutting down a tree

¨ shopping for gifts ¨ decorating the tree

¨ making gifts ¨ helping with holiday activities at work

¨ buying gift wrapping supplies ¨ making or buying decorations

¨ wrapping gifts ¨ cleaning up after the holiday

¨ mailing gifts ¨ writing thank-yous

¨ planning holiday menus ¨ getting kids to write thank-yous

¨ cooking for family reunions ¨ putting away decorations

¨ special grocery shopping ¨ disposing of the tree

¨ holiday baking taking down outside decorations

¨ planning family reunions ¨ other _______________

¨ getting ready for relatives ¨ other _______________

2. Write the person’s name next to each task who is responsible for accomplishing it.

3. Put an X next to each activity that has little value to you, or that you do not have time to fully enjoy.

4. What are your conclusions?

Was that an eye opener? Did you find yourself being the mainstay for most of those tasks? How does that make you feel? I have noticed from doing many of these programs that women do most of the tasks and men generally say “Why are you doing all that stuff? It’s not necessary.” Just something to think about.

What if you could have a do-over for your typical holiday festivities. What would it look like? Take a few minutes to ponder that and then create YOUR PERFECT HOLIDAY FANTASY.

On a separate piece of paper, write down YOUR VISION of a deeply satisfying holiday celebration. Remember – this is about YOU and no one else. The only requirement is that your fantasy fill you with peace and joy. You can either write it out or draw a picture that captures it.

So how did that work out for you? How does it compare with your current holiday celebration? If it is different, are there any things you can still change to make your holiday even more meaningful? Or are you lucky enough to already have the perfect holiday that is perfect for you. Whatever it is, remember what this holiday is all about and make it as joyful and peaceful as possible.

Here is the closing HOLIDAY PLEDGE from the book Unplug the Christmas Machine.

Believing in the beauty and simplicity of the holiday season, I commit myself to the following:

1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts.

2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents.

3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family.

4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of the holidays.

5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family members.

I wish you a very happy, healthy and meaningful holiday season! Please share any tips with us that have worked for you.

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