5 Mental Tweaks for a Happier Holiday Season

After decades of walking this earth, I believe the key to healthy living has to center around your emotional and mental well-being. This is where a change, a tweak, a redirection has to begin. Especially if that change is to become a lifestyle. It would be easy to suggest not eating the first batch of sugar cookies fresh out the oven “to see if they came out right,” or maybe healthy-stuffing your turkey with kale, but that probably won’t carry beyond the season. I’m suggesting the tweak has to begin within.

This is nothing new. Each year, here we are. Halloween is over, and for many of us, “it” begins.

Some might say, “Well, just don’t do all the holiday stuff” – for me, that’s not the answer. I actually love the whole crazy season. I enjoy creating and sharing it all with my family and friends. It’s important to them, so it’s important to me. I just want to be able to embrace it without having a complete meltdown and drinking all the spiked eggnog.

Here’s the pattern that creates my internal chaos, which leads to outward chaos.

• Not keeping up with eveyday things
• Not scheduling
• Not planning
• Not setting boundaries <— Big one!
• Not finding time to do something I enjoy

Add 1 horse, 1 mini-horse, 1 donkey, 7 chickens, 1 dog, 1 bird, a cat and a lepeod gecko to all of this. Someone in this group is always pooping or eating. I’m not complaining. I love every stinkin’ minute of it. But it can be nonstop, and the season can easily become extremely stressful.

And, as we all know, stress can be unhealthy.

This might even lead to stress eating. The temptations of family gatherings and office parties filled with goodies are tough enough to navigate.

In an effort to keep the stress manageable, I’ve decided to do a few things differently this year.

Here’s my Five Tweaks

1. Take care of the little things day by day: This might start with having a time set aside to apply this. It might look like, “I will spend one hour each day completely dedicated to everyday things: Laundry, bill paying, dusting, vacuuming etc.” It also covers those drop-ins from well-meaning visitors. No rushing around shoving dirty laundry under the bed and dirty dishes in a laundry room sink. (I’ve just heard of people doing this. Crazy right?)

2. Schedule, schedule, schedule: Everything. Appointments, to-dos, phone calls, emails, grocery lists, EVERYTHING! You might end up with 15 alerts a day from your phone, but that’s much less stressful than the panic of forgetting something.

3. Plan ahead: For example, I want to brine my turkey again this year. The family loved it. But I need the brining kit and if I don’t plan ahead, I’ll wait and either panic and run around looking for one, or say forget it and be disappointed. I realize it’s not the biggest issue but it still creates unneeded stress. An easy fix. I also realize (because I’ve often been there) you have to wait to purchase something because it’s not in the budget. This is where I’m trying to plan even further ahead. Often, this actually saves money too!

4. Boundaries are my new best friend: I’m guessing setting boundaries with my time and relationships has probably cut my stress in half. Somewhere I bought into the message boundaries were rude, mean, and unloving. But now I realize the only person I was being rude, mean, and unloving to was myself. Plus, anyone who thinks your boundaries are rude, mean, and unloving will likely feel the same way no matter what you do. When I feel empowered, I find my choices are more healthy.

5. Making time for things I love: It could be riding my horse, working out, watching a movie, reading a book, or taking a photo walk with my daughter. Visiting my happy place recharges and renews me. It helps me be emotionally available for loved ones. We are, after all, not machines, but fallible humans. It’s freeing to embrace that fact.

Note: Trying to perfect all five could also be stressful — I’m a fan of the 80/20 rule. When it comes to all things in life.

So, let this be the season of giving, of family, and of a whole lot less stress! While the craziness of the holiday adds to the spirit, it doesn’t have to add gray hairs. Don’t let the insanity take away from that precious time with your family and friends!

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