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Holiday Survival: Keep it Simple

Keep your goals and expectations realistic!

Keep your goals and expectations realistic!

With Thanksgiving two weeks away, it’s time to plan ahead to reduce your holiday stress.  Stress often comes from having unrealistic expectations for yourself and/or others.  If you expect the holidays to be perfect—from the food to the décor to the gifts to Aunt Martha’s behavior—you are probably setting yourself up to be disappointed, not to mention exhausted. 

Expectations often include the word “should:”  “I should be able to prepare the entire meal by myself.”  “The children should all behave perfectly.”   When you use the word “should,” ask yourself “Do I really want to?” and/or “How realistic is that?”  When you feel pressured to do something you don’t want to do, ask yourself “What’s the worst thing that could happen if I didn’t do it?”  What terrible thing would happen if you asked for help preparing the big meal?  What would happen if the children didn’t behave perfectly?  Would it really be so awful?   

Simplifying and delegating are important strategies to reduce stress.  What can you do to simplify your holiday celebrations?  Do you really need to serve three different desserts?  Or buy gifts for every member of your extended family?  Decide what holiday traditions/activities bring you the most pleasure, and then take steps to simplify or eliminate the others.  Perhaps it’s time to let some traditions go and create new, more active family traditions.  Walk or run in the Turkey Trot, or play touch football after dinner instead of watching the game on TV. 

What tasks can you delegate?  Asking relatives to bring a dish, getting the kids to set the table and/or clean up, and/or hiring a caterer can give you time to relax and spend time with family and friends.  And isn’t that really what the holidays are supposed to be about?    I wish you and your loved ones a very happy, healthy Thanksgiving!

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