By Maryalene LaPonsie
The holidays can feel like a high-stakes time of year. You want everything to be magical and joyful and peaceful…and you only have a few short weeks to cram in everything on your to-do list.
Dial down the stress by trying these five ways to slow down for the holidays. As a bonus, they may help you have a more meaningful season to boot.
Ditch the Bucket List
In theory, the idea of a holiday bucket list isn’t bad. Write down everything you want to do for the season – bake Christmas cookies, go for moonlit walks, have a family game night – and then work on checking them off.
In reality, bucket lists are stress-inducing. Rather than letting you savor the season, they have you rushing through tasks so you can complete the list before the holidays are a wrap. Save your sanity. Forget the idea of a bucket list.
Decide What’s Important
Instead of making a bucket list, consider your non-negotiable holiday traditions. What has to happen to make it feel like the holidays? Maybe it’s an annual party you always attend or a certain recipe you love to make.
Whatever it is, write those things in your calendar and then feel free to say no to everything else. If you worry about missing out on festivities, remember that for most things, a no can easily be turned into a yes if you change your mind later.
Schedule Down Days
Look at your calendar and cross out two or three days. These are your days, and you should absolutely, positively not schedule anything on them. Ideally, they will be on a day when you don’t have to work so you can have all 24 hours free.
And what will you do on your down days? Anything you please. You could:
- Shop for gifts
- Bake cookies
- Clean the house
- Read a book
- Take a long bath
The point is that without an agenda, you can do anything you like. What’s more, you can do it because you WANT to do it, not because it’s an obligation on your calendar or something you need to check off a list.
Sign off from Social Media
Social media isn’t all bad, but at this time of year, it seems like a never-ending stream of Christmas craft posts, Hanukah recipes and seasonal events are showing up in your news feed.
Sites like Pinterest can quickly derail all plans for a slow, meaningful holiday season. Spend too much time there and soon you’ll be trying to up your hot cocoa game, make your house smell like Christmas and create handmade bows for all your gifts. Those things are all great if that’s what you want to do with your time, but more often than not, these DIY projects distract us from how we really want to spend the season.
Bottom line: you don’t have to delete your accounts but try to limit your time on social media.
Remember: Some is Better than None
Finally, don’t despair if it’s mid-December, and you’re only now pulling out your Advent calendar. Or maybe your Elf on a Shelf has been in the same spot for five days. Or perhaps your jack-a-lanterns are still on the front porch.
We want everything to be perfect for the holidays, but life is not perfect. You may want to try three new cookie recipes, but you know what? If you can only manage to bake up a batch of store bought dough, that’s ok. The season doesn’t have to be perfect to be meaningful. Do what you can and find meaning in that.
It’s hard to slow down for the holidays. That’s for sure. Try these tips out and let us know what works for you.
From all of us at Worthy.com, we hope you have the very merriest of times this year.
About the Author
Maryalene LaPonsie is a personal finance writer, mother of five and keeper of memories for her late husband. She is a regular contributor to U.S. News & World Report, and her work has been featured on MoneyTalksNews, MSN, CBS News and elsewhere on the web. You can visit her personal website The Mighty Widow or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook.