How to not be overwhelmed this holiday season

It's so easy to become overwhelmed this time of year. Believe it or not, it is possible to go through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year with a true sense of joy, love, and peace. Read on for some practical tips!

Consider a mindset shift on gifts. Studies show that experiences, not material things, make us happier. Think back to Christmas last year- can you remember the gifts you received? Do you remember the gatherings or parties? How much time are you spending planning, purchasing, and wrapping gifts?

Give yourself permission to decline invitations. It's okay to say "no" to holiday parties. I'm going to say it again. It's okay to say "no" to holiday parties. Work parties, gatherings with friends, family events- you don't need to go to all of them. Just recently, I heard someone mention how she will be attending Christmas parties every Friday and Saturday starting Thanksgiving weekend until the New Year. That is 5 straight weekends of holiday parties. Now, some might really be able to handle all of that. But I would wager that most of us would be completely overwhelmed with that type of schedule. It's okay to pick and choose which events you attend- you are in charge of your time.

Scale back on the decorations. Research shows the connection between a cluttered space and a cluttered mind. Keeping your home neat plays a big part in feeling like you can manage the stress of the holiday season. How do you normally deck the halls? Are there knick-knacks in every room? Stockings, a tree, wreath, garland? If decorating feels overwhelming and adds to your stress, don't do it. Or, what about keeping it simple this year with just a tree and some white lights? Really, it's okay!

Beware of Pinterest. I will be the first one to say that I love using Pinterest- I love using it to look up new recipes, fashion ideas, and find travel inspiration. At the same time, I'm weary of comparing my own life to one that is more Pinteresting- especially when it comes to the holiday season. Beautifully decorated mantles, perfect Christmas cookies, and charmingly styled family photos are everywhere. These things aren't necessarily bad- but once we start comparing, and thinking those "not good enough" thoughts, the shame spiral begins, anxiety creeps up, and quickly a festive season becomes stressful. 

Anxiety has a knack for taking over lives- especially during this time of year. Family gatherings, gifts, and expectations can all be anxiety triggers. If you're tired of anxiety ruling your life, consider how counseling might help. I would love to talk to you about how we can work together to manage it during the holiday season and beyond.