(This first appeared as a guest post on my friend Christina’s blog, Juggling Real Food and Real Life.)
Ready or not, the Christmas season is upon us. Your schedule is probably packed, and chances are you’re having a hard time keeping things calm and healthy. And keeping things sexy may be entirely off your radar! For women, and especially those with young children, this can be one of the most stressful times of the year. While you can’t eliminate all the stress of the season, you can control and manage much of it. Here are 6 strategies for creating a calmer Christmas season for you and your family this year:
- Assess your schedule, plans and expectations. What things are causing you the most stress? Are those things truly important, or could you let them go? For example, attending your children’s school music program and planning Christmas dinner for your family are truly important, but finding perfect matching outfits for the Christmas Eve service and attending all of your neighbors’ holiday parties probably are not. Take some time to identify the truly important things and to reconsider expectations that may be unrealistic. (You know, like my dream of serving a Christmas dinner that looks like it came from the pages of Southern Living!) If your goal is to enjoy a joyous, peaceful Christmas with your family, taking this step is essential.
- Organize and prioritize your Christmas “to do” list. Once you’ve established your priorities, make a list of the things you’ll need to do to accomplish them. Put the most important items higher on the list. Then use the list to plan your schedule for each day and week. Plan to accomplish most of your high-priority items before you devote much time to low-priority tasks. And try to group similar tasks, or those that can be done in the same location, together – you don’t want to be running to the same mall or store 3 or 4 times if you can possibly avoid it.
- Tackle one thing that’s annoying you that can be done in 30 minutes or less. This might be a Christmas thing, or it could be a regular thing (maybe something on your Little Annoying Tasks (LAT) List). Either way, pick something that’s bugging you, something you can accomplish in 30 minutes or less, and just do it. Try to do this once or twice a week, and enjoy the satisfaction of being done with something that’s been weighing on your mind.
- Make time for your marriage. When things get crazy, it’s easy to let your husband and marriage drop to the bottom of your “to do” list. But taking time to connect with him and spending time together can actually reduce your stress, rather than adding to it. And don’t forget that sex is a great stress reducer! In addition, be sure to involve your husband in the Christmas plans and responsibilities, rather than becoming the “Christmas Commander” and trying to do everything on your own. Sharing the burdens (and fun) of the season with him can reduce your stress level too.
- Go outside and take a walk. If you’re too busy to take a walk every day, you’re too busy. Really. A 30-minute walk is ideal, but a 15-minute walk is a good place to start.
- Take care of yourself. Take a warm bath, read a book for pleasure, listen to beautiful music, watch a relaxing TV show or movie – anything you enjoy that relaxes you. Again, if you’re too busy to do this at least every other day, you’re too busy. Cross some things off your to-do list or assign them to someone else.