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Truthy Tuesday: What stresses me out about the holidays, and what I’m gonna do about it.

During this time of year, I can feel my body move into a sort of hibernation mode where my deepest yearning underneath it all becomes, simply, to rest.

To rest from the busyness that the first 11 months of the year have brought. To take time to reflect-on and take-in all the many lessons I’ve learned this year. And my main priorities become how much yummy I can get into my tummy, and where’s the nearest warm body to cuddle up with.

Yet that natural inclination, that perhaps many of us feel this time of year, to hunker-down, is totally contrasted by everywhere we look during this season that says “buy! buy! buy!”, “spend! spend! spend!”, “do! do! do!”, “it’s not time to rest, yet!”

And I think that’s where a lot of our stress comes from- this contrast between our innate natures and societal norms saying otherwise.

We get caught up in a lot of what we think we “should” be doing around the holidays (which we talk more about in this week’s upcoming video!) and I don’t know about you, but December always seems to fly by for me in haste, and relaxation often doesn’t come until after the holidays are over.

So here are some things I plan on doing to keep stress at bay as I try to enjoy this last little bit of 2012:

Focus on presence, not presents

You know what I consider a great gift? To have a conversation with someone who’s not checking their phone the whole time, or clearly thinking about their to-do list while they’re “listening” to you.

I want to both feel more presence and connection with people during these last fleeting days of the year, and also to give presence- to BE there. To really listen, connect, engage with people in the moment and not let myself get stuck up in my head.

I think presence is an amazing gift for others, and for yourself, cause bonus! It’s an instant stress reliever.

Make time to make, not spend

One of my most stress inducing holiday activities is shopping for people! I have lots of fun figuring out a unique and thoughtful gift that’s just for that person- love that part. But the finding, driving, crazy busy store going, endless web searching, too much money spending part? Not so fun for me, no mo’.

So this year I’ve opted out of some of the usual holiday things I do, like a handmade ornament exchange I’ve participated in for years, to instead focus my creative energies on making gifts for my family and friends.

I’m making time to make something special for everyone on my list- the trick is to start early! So I’m already planning and plotting and will likely be spending many-a relaxing and happy weekend between now and Christmas just creating, and that’s something that fits in completely with my winter hibernation urges.

Random acts of kindness

To me, people trampling each other to get inside a Black Friday sale is the exact opposite of what the holidays are about.

This is supposed to be a time of joy, of reflection, connection and above all, giving. But unfortunately, it’s become so much more about the stuff we give, rather than the bits of ourselves we give.

I get stressed out by the materialism that the holidays bring, so to counter-act that, this year I want to focus more on how I can give in other ways.

Jen and I were talking about random acts of kindness as being a great way to not only give back to someone, to show you care, but it’s also an amazing way to warm your own heart. Giving to others is really also about giving back to yourself, and there’s no 50% off sale that can compare to those kind of warm-fuzzies.

In a way, I guess it comes back to presence, as I want to remain open and observant to the opportunities I have to offer help, service, a smile, a warm coat, or whatever kindness I can show.

That’s how I plan on creating a less-stressed holiday season, rife with the enjoyment of as many small moments as I can capture. I want to stretch the rest of this year waaaaay out.

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Share your thoughts/tips/struggles around holiday stress on your blog too, and we’ll post a link right here for our readers to check out!

Joanna from Re-U shares some really good tips around holiday stress-busting

Kalani from Kalanicut shares an awesome reminder of what your loved ones really want this holiday season

Courtney from Chakra Glow shares what stresses her out as an introvert this time of year and her idea to combat that

Ashley from She Makes a Home shares how a scary experience reminded her what she most wants from this holiday season

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What about this season stresses you out? And what are you going to do to stave off some of that holiday stress this year? We’d love to continue the conversation with you in the comments below!

12 Responses to Truthy Tuesday: What stresses me out about the holidays, and what I’m gonna do about it.

  1. kalanicut says:

    Ah, we must all be on the same page. I just blogged about this yesterday. No one cares how fabulous your house looks, how amazing your homemade cookies are or how fancy your gift wrap is if you are tired, cranky and miserable to be around. I think our families want more time with us and want beautiful experiences with us…not stuff.

    http://kalanicut.blogspot.com/2012/11/what-they-really-want-for-christmas.html

  2. Courtney says:

    I actually love holiday shopping. It’s like a great game or puzzle that has to be solved by December 25th. Plus, I kind of adore the holiday music and cheesy decorations.

    It is the cleaning and cooking and more cleaning and sitting around long, drawn out meals that fill me with dread. As an introvert, I just find all of that togetherness so exhausting! I think that daily check-ins with myself are key, or else I know I’ll have the urge to cancel on all plans. I wrote a little bit about it here:
    http://www.thechakraglow.com/2012/11/truthy-tuesday-holiday-stress-busting.html

    • Awesome! Yeah, if you love it, go for it! I think that’s the key for us all to evade stress- to do what speaks to us individually. I totally understand where you’re coming from as an introvert, too. I feel ya! Your post is very well said- I love the idea of daily check-ins & treats! Thanks so much for sharing it with us- I’ll add it up top! -jena

  3. Well said. I feel the same way, Jena!

    I tell my family that I don’t want “things” especially if I have to store them or dust them. We give consumables, like experiences, wine or even a gift card for a special meal. It’s just hard to get that message across to everyone else.

    Not everyone has the same amount of disposable income, so the pressure is on at this time of year to keep up. That’s why I like Secret Santa parties with friends, so everyone is included, but there isn’t a lot of pressure to get the perfect gift for everyone or spend an amount based on what others are spending. Just the time spent together catching up in a relaxing setting is a gift for me.

    Happy Holidays! XO

    • Ooh, I love that! Giving “consumables”- that’s an awesome way to think about it! I agree with you on the pressure that comes with gifts sometimes and spending a certain amount of money- I’m like you, I’d rather be gifted food, drink or a fun time together, any day!

      Thanks for reading & sharing, Kristin! -jena

  4. Coral says:

    This year I’ve gotten rid of the have to’s and have chosen to make my Christmas what I need it to be for me. No forced obligation. No suck it up or grin and bare it’s. This year I told my husband Christmas is 1 day of fulfilling family duties. The rest is about me doing art, finishing neglected online courses, finishing half read books and bookmarked blogs. I am gifting myself a much needed recharge. Too often we fulfill other people’s wishes at this time of year and don’t give ourselves the space to make it what we want it to be. There has to be a balance, otherwise we grow resentful of this time of the year and the people we spend it with. For the first time in as long as I can remember – I’m having my kind of Christmas.

    • Preach, sista! I love it!! I want to do the same thing this December with the catching up of online courses! And books! How I long for a moment to sit and read an actual book, just because. I’m with you, Coral! Here’s to re-charging. -jena

  5. You put it all into such perfect words! That is the strange thing about the holidays – the contrast between what it is supposed to mean, what you want to do… and what is required of you during this time to “get everything done.”

    I think you’re right-on about making instead of spending. This will be the 6th Christmas now since I took the Handmade Pledge – almost every gift we give now is handmade, unless I found the perfect book or brooch for someone. My sister and I now make a ritual of it – getting together for an entire weekend to make handmade gifts together. I think I look forward to that more than I do Christmas day :)

    I actually had an experience over Thanksgiving weekend that prompted me to write about priorities and stress-busting during the holidays – my little Truthy Tuesday contribution (although I know it’s Wednesday, and I’m late – oops!): http://www.shemakesahome.com/2012/11/truthy-tuesday-holiday-stress-busting.html

    Happy Holidays, Mavens!

    Ashley

    • Oh, thank you Ashley! And that’s a beautiful post you wrote! Scary!! I’m glad you were able to gain some perspective from it rather then letting the lesson there just whiz on by, that’s awesome. I’ll add it to the post above! Thanks so much and happy holidays to you too! -jena

  6. Kelly says:

    I’ve always been the kind of gal (even when I was a wee one) that really didn’t care about the gifts. I never asked for much & the only requirement I had was that we were together with family. Here we are around 30 years later & I’m still doing the same thing.

    Oh & I stay far away from Black Friday shopping! I’ve made almost all my gifts every year & have found that my family prefers it that way. The one year I did a little buying was during the planning of my wedding, when time didn’t permit me to make all those gifts. Gotta say I kinda loved it when my now FIL told me that he liked what I got him, but he loves when I make him things. Not every gal is lucky enough to have an entire family that would much rather have handmade things.

    Of course that doesn’t mean I am stress-free this time of year, but only because I put that stress on myself by being a perfectionist about the things I give. I can’t tell you how many times in the past I have taken an entire project apart because one tiny thing is bothering me. LOL!

    • Kelly, you are like my son. He rarely has many items on his wish list. This year he only had 1! Which I should mention his b-day is Saturday so we’re getting the African Drum that he wanted for x-mas for his b-day instead and now I have no ideas for him for x-mas!

      It’s actually pretty cool though because he’s always happy with what he gets and he doesn’t expect a lot. Sounds like you guys are cut from a similar cloth. My son is also a perfectionist, like you! Funny.

      Hope your holiday is great! – Jen

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