person under a pile of christmas gifts

Reduce Holiday Stress

Holiday stress... It happens the very first time I walk into Target and I see that there are already Christmas decorations up and it's barely past Halloween. It’s like someone made the decision that there was no longer a "let’s wait until Thanksgiving is over" rule and no one told me. The holidays are overwhelming - there I said it. The pressure to create that "happy" experience, sometimes ends up creating the exact opposite. It can leave us feeling exhausted and like a failure. Over the years I have had many different holiday experiences, ranging from a house full of people getting along to people arguing and storming out. In my family, like most families, things are a bit complicated. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago that I was able to really see what a complete waste of time it was to allow holidays to impact me at all. I had spent my entire adult life (over 25 years) trying so hard to please others, especially in my family. That all changed for me starting with Thanksgiving 2019.

Double mastectomy

I had my double mastectomy on November 18, so I was unable to host Thanksgiving. Instead, I was sitting in my recliner watching Netflix with drains coming out of my body. I remember at that moment thinking I wish I could get back all the years I had wasted stressing about things that simply didn’t matter. In fact, I couldn’t remember what those things even were anymore. I vowed on that day that I would never again allow the stress of holidays to impact me or waste any more of my time.

Striving for perfection

Once I felt strong enough to go out and my drains were removed about a week later, I went to Target with my daughter and niece to start my Christmas shopping. Instead of approaching it with stress, I remembered that it really didn’t matter. All that mattered was that I was strong and healthy enough to be in the store in the first place. I stopped rushing around trying to get everything done and most importantly I stopped striving for perfection. Instead, I just did the best that I could do without putting pressure on myself. I changed my attitude and expectation of myself and others. I decided to put my needs and my daughter’s needs first. I made decisions about where and who we were going to spend the holidays with based on who we wanted to be with and not who we felt obligated to be with. Once I started to do that, something incredible happened! I actually started to enjoy the holidays! Imagine that? I created new traditions and refused to put any pressure on myself again.  Any time that old familiar holiday stress feeling creeps up I simply remind myself that there are 8760 hours in each year and the holidays at most make up 150 of those hours. This perspective always prevents me from going down that path again.

When you are starting to feel the holiday, stress remember that it’s such a small part of your life, don’t make it bigger than it needs to be.

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