I used to love Christmas shopping. When I was in my early twenties, I lived in rural Virginia due to my job at a historic house museum. Stores were few and far between, and my rare ventures to cities, where I could wander frenetic malls and festive downtown shopping districts, were a treat.
A decade and a phantasmic lifetime later, I found myself in an apartment in the Washington D.C. area. My job and commute exhausted me more days than not, and I soon developed an intense dislike of the extra crowds and frequent bad weather that came with the holiday season. I avoided shopping for gifts until the last minute. From this dislike I soon developed anxiety about the holidays, and even though (from what I read) I am not alone in feeling stressed during this time of year, that knowledge has done little to lift the weight I often feel.
That said, I am not ready to turn my back on the season. There are friends to see, pretty things to be made, and joy to be shared. All it takes is
a little lot of strategizing to make it work for you. Here is my current game plan:
Start with the easy stuff. As mentioned, my main source of holiday stress is the shopping, but there are people on my list who are easier to buy for than others. I therefore start with them. Once I’ve bought a couple gifts, even if it only took me a minimal amount of time, I start to feel a sense of accomplishment. As a result, the rest of the task feels less overwhelming and I am gradually able to knock it out.
Don’t read stupid articles. In researching this post, I googled “holiday stress.” On the first page of hits, there was a story that recommended eating more honey during the holidays. Something about it being an antioxidant and that would prevent you from catching . . . whatever illness your anxiety might cause? Anyway, I am pretty sure that suggestion helped no one ever. Instead, I am going to spend more time thinking about what works for me, and then just do that.
Take time to enjoy myself. As is probably obvious from this blog, I love creating. And so, I am doing it as much as possible. For example, on Saturday my piano teacher hosted a little wreath-making workshop in her home. I did not have time, but went anyway. And my oh my was it fun. With the help of an instructor, we made these beautiful wreaths with live succulents. I had a wonderful afternoon, and totally got into the holiday spirit. Plus I have a beautiful decoration to show for the day.
Let stuff go. Especially the things I really dislike or just cannot handle. For a number of years, I have had a not-so-great work situation. There is not a lot I can do about much of it, but what I can do is not spend my precious personal time attending work-related holiday events. I have other plans and cannot go. The end.
Find shortcuts. One is Internet shopping. I buy almost everything online at Amazon, Bloomingdales, and Nordstrom. I then order most of my gift wrapping supplies from the Container Store. Limiting my purchasing to just a few sites makes the process quicker. The same goes for food. I have a few specialty stores close to my house that I really like, and so I stick with those during the holidays.
Remind myself that all things that are stressing me out really don’t matter much. The holidays are meant to be fun, and if something goes wrong or a gift isn’t quite right, oh well. Soon enough it will be bitter cold January, which is decidedly less fun.
I hope you all have a lovely holiday season. x