How do you get through the holiday season without losing your mind or your waistline? Author Kristina Knight has some handy hints for surviving the holiday mayhem!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas. We make more time for friends we haven’t seen in a while, get together with family more than usual, and wherever you go, there is a plate of sugar cookies with thick, creamy icing.
The music is uplifting, the color scheme are bright. People are kinder. Time seems to slow. There are Hallmark Movie Marathons, and favorite flicks run almost constantly on those classic movie channels. It is, indeed, the most wonderful time of the year.
Unless you’re on deadline, working from home, and have the kids and relatives underfoot. Then, it’s a nightmare highlighted by Aunt Mary’s passive-aggressive, ‘these green beans don’t taste like Grandma’s’, a meltdown in Aisle 5 at the Piggly Wiggly because they’re out of Karo Syrup, and finding one more place to put that freaking Elf on the Shelf. Then, it is the worst time of the year, and you wind up snapping at your family like Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
The thing is, the holiday season doesn’t have to be a stress-eating fueled thirty day period that leaves you wishing it was already over. The holiday season can be relaxing, filled with fun, and marked by memories that you - and your family - will cherish for years. Here are a few tips that will help you not only survive the holiday, but make it one to remember.
Make time for exercise
The first thing to go when To Do lists run long - at least in most cases - is exercise. That walk around the block, half hour yoga or Zumba class, or twenty minutes on the treadmill are the easiest way to make time for another quick grocery trip or a quick present wrapping session once the kids head outside to build a snowman. Don’t do that. Make time for yoga, treadmill, dancing, or whatever other exercise strikes your fancy because exercise is a great way to bring those stress levels down - and keep the scale from creeping up because of the cookies and pies and holiday parties going on all month.
Make a list
Keep a running list for grocery items you’ve realized you need, those last minute presents, trips to the post office. You’re already making lists? Awesome, take that list and prioritize it. What things really need to get done today or this week? Do those things first, and leave the things that can wait for another day.
Set goals for your writing
But keep the goals realistic. You’re already stressing over family visits, making the holiday the best for your kids, that office party at the end of the week, don’t add unrealistic 10,000 word daily goals to your list. Remember, you also have the kids home from school, family staying over, or trips to see family coming up. Creating unrealistic writing goals will only add to those stress levels, and leave you feeling overwhelmed and bad about yourself.
Make time for your writing
Number 3 is about setting realistic goals? It absolutely is. There is a second part of making realistic goals, especially at this time of the year, and the second part is about honoring those goals. Your writing should be a commitment this time of year, just as it is at any other. So set aside your usual morning or afternoon writing time, shut your office door, tell your family you are not to be disturbed, and spend time on your characters and your story. Just like exercise will help you manage stress levels, so will writing. For me, when I’m writing, I’m more relaxed in general, because I’m not mentally beating myself up about A) falling behind on my deadlines or B) not working ‘hard enough’ and C) I find it easier to get back into my story because I haven’t left my story completely behind.
Ask for - and accept - help
No one can do everything alone. You can’t take care of the kids and shop for the kids and wrap presents for the kids...if the kids are always underfoot. Same goes for your husband or wife, your extended family, your writing. So take advantage of that play date your daughter’s friend called about, or take Grandma up on that offer to watch thekids for an afternoon. Use that time to wrap the presents or pick up that last minute item on your significant other’s wish list or, heck, if you’re really feeling overwhelmed, take that time for you - go to a spa, get your nails done, take a bubble bath.
Take back ‘you time’
Make a list of the holiday experiences you really want to do with your family - maybe it’s spending an afternoon making homemade cookies, maybe it’s touring the light displays in your town, maybe it’s actually visiting Santa’s house, maybe it’s a girl’s night out (‘me time’ shouldn’t suffer, not even during the holidays), maybe it’s movie night with your spouse.
Keep the list short, with only those activities that you really, truly want to do, and make a schedule for them. Find a Saturday that will work for baking, come up with a handful of evenings that you can get together with friends, sync your schedule with your husband or wife so that you can do a ‘date night’ — and remember to enlist the help of a trusted babysitter who won’t leave you hanging.
Yes, the holidays can be a time filled with magic, laughter, and love. They can also be filled with stress, anxiety, and fear. Don’t worry about making this holiday ‘the best ever’, focus.
Check out Kristina's latest release, Christmas in a Small Town. For more information see her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Do you love the holiday season? What are your fave/least fave parts? What are your tips for surviving unscathed? We'd love to hear from you here or on PHS social media.