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Surviving The Holiday Chaos

The holidays are upon us! It may seem like they will last forever but they are finite, measurable, and have a defined end. This is important because it gives us a perspective we did not always have. They have an end. Stay focused on what you really want this season; if you aim at nothing, you will surely find it. Focus your thoughts on positive affirming sentences and ideas; what you say to yourself, you are likely to draw into your life.

What are you wishing for this holiday season? What are your goals? Do you want to pray or to party? Do you want friends or family or solitude? How do you want to feel when the holidays end?  What do you really want to accomplish this season? How do you want to feel on January 3, 2023?

Is this a holiday that has a spiritual significance for you? Then take this opportunity to really enjoy this special, spiritual experience. Plan now for the spiritual time you will need. Invite a loved one to participate with you.  Write it in on your calendar so you can keep that time sacred.

Are people the purpose? For those we know and love, plan now to put time for them in your celebration. For many of us, people are the purpose. There are some people we want to spend more time with, and some folks we could do with less of. For others, having peace and solitude is more important. Whatever matters to you most, plan for it. Reach for it now.

Or do you feel alone? Many people struggle with the whole holiday season. Let yourself feel whatever you feel. Accept the sad and sorrowful feelings without negative judgments, comments or self-condemnation. Look for things you can do – like helping at a school or food bank, if that pleases you.

Focus on what’s most important. Set off a chain reaction in your heart this holiday season. Focus your intentions on giving and how that feels inside. What a joy to share with those we love! The best gift you can give is you – be present, be helpful, and be loving. This holiday season don’t just fill stockings…fill hearts with joy! And do something kind or helpful for those who have less than we do.

Honor your own needs. That may mean saying “No” to what some people want. It may mean negotiating changes in traditional activities or foods. Take time for extra rest, down time and sleep. Simplify what you can. Plan ahead; ask questions of your friends or relatives so you know what to expect.

Don’t allow yourself to over schedule, or be uncomfortable. Leave a party or event early if you feel tired or uncomfortable. Plan ahead; find out what foods are available; do what is needed to take care of you. Take your own car so you can leave early if you need to or stay later if you want.

 Plan, Plan, Plan! For people who struggle with food and eating, the holidays can be a time of conflict. Memories of foods from past years, whether good or bad memories, are powerful motivators. And the holidays are usually full of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods with which we struggle. So, plan — plan the food, and plan the festivities. Create a positive position for yourself. Plan those activities you really want and enjoy. Give yourself the gift of time and attention, hope and peace that you really deserve. Plan ahead; ask questions of your friends or relatives so you know what to expect.

Make a list. What makes the season important to you? Plan now to make time to do the things that are important to you, the things that will make your holiday special and precious.

Take care of the shopping in the easiest way possible for you – Cyber Monday, your favorite websites, gift cards, the little shop up the street. Be creative but be speedy too!

Plan activities that are not food based. What else would you enjoy? A trip to the farm to cut down your own tree? A hayride or a train ride? A walk through the mall to see the decorations? A drive around the neighborhood to look at the lights? If it’s the ballet, or a quiet hour alone with a good book, or a religious observance – or not going to a religious observance – give yourself some time to do what matters to you, that is not food laden.

Plan appropriate support. You need people you can trust to hold you up and help you stay focused. Keep going to meetings and other groups that work for you. Plan the ones that work best for you into your schedule. Be more aware of when the folks you trust can be available to listen and support. Give yourself time with those you love.

Give yourself a break every day. Take 10 minutes out just for you. Breathe, listen, do whatever you wish that is not food and makes you feel good. Take the time to smell the pine tree or pet the cat. Take time to meditate or pray.

Plan your food carefully. Make a grocery trip now that stocks up on the regular, healthy foods you enjoy. Buy all of your staples now. Get enough shampoo, toilet paper, and paper towels as well. Make a soup or stew you can freeze for emergency meals. Prepare a couple of extra meals so you will have food on hand if you need it.

Do not forget your fruits and vegetables. Try frozen fruit (especially cherries!) and frozen mixtures of vegetables. Buy something new, maybe a fresh pineapple and broccoli slaw, for your fruit and vegetables one week.

Pay attention to timing of your meals. Do not allow yourself to go more than 5 hours without eating; that will only make you tired and cranky. Always expect there to be a delay in eating time; have a healthy snack if you need to; never go anywhere hungry, or without a plan for your food needs.

Call ahead, or check the website, whenever you plan to eat out. Get specifics about the menu items from a manager (call between 3 and 4 pm when they are not busy). Caterers and managers will be happy to answer questions and plan appropriate foods for you; dear Aunt Sally will tell you what’s in her special chicken – but only if you take the time to ask in advance. This way you will have time to adjust your food plan and your expectations to the reality.

Go to special events prepared. Expect the meal to be an hour later than planned – minimum. Bring a platter of fruit or vegetables to share. Go late or leave early. Give yourself permission to skip the cocktails or to just go home when you are tired or tempted. Wander down the buffet or check all the bowls and ask questions.  ”Mmmm this looks lovely. What is in it?”

 Prepare an answer for those who ask, “Can’t you have just one?” Try responses like, “Not this year” or “Not right now” or just, “No, thank you”. Or my personal favorite… “Why is this important to you?” We will have a whole blog on this topic in the next weeks.

Make a non-food agenda for each event you attend. Aside from food, why am I here? What do I want to accomplish at this event? Who do I want to see? What do I want to talk about? For example, “I am going to this event because it is the big family party, and it will hurt my Mom too much if I do not show up. I want to meet Cousin Tilley’s new baby; I want to check out Uncle Joe’s new wife, and I want to spend some time with Grandmom who is 83 this winter. In addition, I need to ask Charlie for a referral to that professional. I am leaving early, surely by 8 PM, to get to my meeting. I told Mom already that I have an 8:30 commitment.”

Take a friend with you when you must do hard stuff. Or bookend your difficult times: commit to calling someone both before and after the event. If you know someone is waiting for your call, you are likely to keep your word.

Remember to breathe. Just breathe. Whenever you feel stress or anxieties coming on, or whenever you are starting to feel overwhelmed with everything you need to do, just pause and breathe.

Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts and then hold for 4 counts. Repeat this breath cycle for a few minutes for an instant calming and rejuvenating effect.

The holidays are meant to be enjoyable, so this year make it a point to find the fun and allow all the unnecessary stresses to melt away.

Give yourself credit. Journal.  Write a letter to yourself and tell yourself all the good things you are accomplishing. Try to find your HP’s fingerprints on the situations have accomplished this year. Thank yourself for your hard work and acknowledge how much you have grown.

Write thank you notes to the people who have helped you and stood behind you this year.

Thank the Universe for all of the good things in your life.

Let yourself feel the love of the season

Make a spiritual observance that is meaningful to you. Whether that is church, a supportive spiritual meeting, or some time alone with your Higher Power, do something that is meaningful and spiritual for you at this time.

There are only a few days of this holiday season, and they pass quickly. Your negative mind will tell you this will last forever; it will not. Sometimes it helps to count the days till the season ends. it makes it feel less permanent. Stay present in this day and this moment. Welcome moments of joy.

Enjoy. Believe in yourself. Make this holiday the beginning of the best chapter of your life!

 Blessings and holiday joy to you,

 Theresa

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