Holiday Stress is coming to Town

Do you find yourself making a list and checking it twice?  Isn’t that Santa’s job?  With so much to do in such a short time it is easy to double book parties, forget the vanilla extract yet again, lose the address of your favorite client, and spend too much money all before noon today.  The Holidays are here and so is the added stress of more stuff, more money, more places to be, more people to see, and more pounds to gain.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Instead of making just another “to do” list, make yourself a different type of list establishing your limitations well in advance.  You can call it your Naughty List (what not to do) and Nice List (what to do).

Naughty List.

  1. Overspending your budget just because…
  2. Being unrealistic about the amount of time an activity will take or a visit with family will last.
  3. Failing to communicate your plans with others so they can plan accordingly.
  4. Trying out a recipe out for the first time to bring to your office party.  The expectation that everything will go perfectly and it will taste fantastic is unrealistic.  Instead bring a dish that you already know works.
  5. Increasing your project load at home when you have less free time to complete it.  If you want to make new decorations, make them after the season for next year rather than now when time is already short.
  6. Overdoing the decorations, enough said.
  7. Overbuying for you.  That red sweater you wore last year is still good and you really don’t need a new one.
  8. Being a Scrooge.  Just because money is short doesn’t mean that you have to announce it to the world and remind everyone about your struggles.
  9. Calories unfortunately do count during the Holidays.  That piece of fudge is still the same amount of calories during the Holidays as it is in the summer.
  10. Feeling guilty.  No one can make you feel guilty unless you let them so except your limitations and set better boundaries.
  11. Minimizing the impact of a major life change over the past year.  Any major life change such as a death, divorce, marriage, birth of a child or move significantly changes the way the Holidays will be spent.  If you have had a change over the past year, acknowledge it and plan for the Holidays to reflect the change.
  12. Setting unreasonable expectations for yourself, your spouse, and your family.

Nice List.

  1. Take time out for yourself and rest during the Holidays.  Plan one day to be free from all commitments and enjoy the season.
  2. Reconnect with an old friend.
  3. Extend the free gift of forgiveness to someone in your life.
  4. Revisit the true meaning of the Holidays instead of the commercial meaning.
  5. Give a plant, some food, some time, or some expertise instead of another useless gift.  These gifts are far more valuable.
  6. Create a new tradition.  Instead of all the running around, plan to spend one day with just immediate family and stay in your P.J.’s all day watching old movies and playing games.
  7. Give the gift of humor and learn to laugh at yourself.  This is a great stress reliever.
  8. Before you go to a party set limits on the amount you will eat and drink.  Be reasonable, realistic, and practical about your temptations.
  9. Technology can be a wonderful thing.  Skype a family member that you can’t visit because of the distance.
  10. The older members of your family are likely to feel lonely during the Holidays so plan on extra time with them and patiently listen to them reliving the past.  This is a free gift that will mean far more than a material gift.
  11. Reach outside of your world and touch the lives of those less fortunate than you by volunteering to deliver meals, giving your lunch to the homeless person on the side of the road, providing a bike for a kid in need, or donating clothing that is unused.
  12. Pray.  Pray for your family, pray for your friends, pray for neighbors, pray for your co-workers, pray for your country, pray for those serving in the military, pray for those being persecuted, pray for those who are starving, pray for those who are dying, and most especially pray for those causing harm to others.  Prayer works.  Prayer lasts a long time.  Prayer creates peace.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

We Wish You a “Mary” Christmas

It’s that time of the year again when the list of things to be done grows by the minute, plans are changed again and again until the last-minute, and stress over finances, family, and friends is at an all time high.  There is too much to do, too much to see, too many places to be, and far too many expectations to be met.  The demands of work, family, friends, and even church push us to a panic frenzy to meet and exceed those demands but at what expense?

When did this season, the season of joy, the season of celebration, the season of giving and the season of bonding become the season of anxiety over unmet expectations and financial pressure, the season of depression over the loss of loved ones, and the season of trampling over others to make a purchase?  “Merry Christmas” is not so merry anymore.  Rather than trying to put the “Merry” back into Christmas, I would propose a different type of “Mary”.  Jesus refers to Mary in Luke 10:38-42 when he informs Martha that she is worried and upset over the details of preparing a meal while her sister Mary sits a listens to Him talk.  She has chosen the better path, one of quiet listening instead of hurrying around.

 Has anyone seen my calendar?  Take a moment to glance over your calendar right now and see just how full it is with events, parties, and special gatherings.  If it is like mine, it is frightening and double booked for several nights and events.  With all of this running around there is not much time to sit and reflect on the true purpose of Christmas and even less time devoted to spending with just your immediate family.  But you can choose the Mary way instead of the Martha way by adjusting your calendar to spend more time with the most important people in your life.

Can you ever have enough Christmas decorations?  Yes Christmas decorations are fun and do help to put you in the mood for Christmas but when you find yourself angry at your spouse for not helping with the outside lights, frustrated at the kids for breaking a favorite ornament, or annoyed at the cat for destroying the bottom of yet another tree, they are adding to your stress level.  Decorations are meant to be fun but if they are not, then don’t add them.  Martha would be decorating and redecorating, Mary would not.

Of course we are doing another family picture with Santa!  Family pictures are frequently exchanged this time of year and they are always full of smiles and happy faces but life is rarely full of smiles and happy faces.  In fact, I have yet to know of a family who does not go through some struggle in any given year yet we pretend that everything is fine.  This is most hurtful to those who have lost a loved one in the last year and are still struggling with grief.  Martha tried to live up to everyone else’s expectations by preparing a great meal, but Mary chose to focus on the one person that mattered most, Jesus.

This year, take some time to evaluate your traditions and expectations.  Read the section in Luke about Mary and Martha and ask yourself, are you more like Mary or Martha?  Then make the better choice.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.