Seasonal Stress Reducers
As teachers we are master jugglers, we have been trained in the art of keeping a lot of things in the air. During holiday season (which in some stores started before October 31!), there is definite potential for many things to be added to the activities we are already juggling, making for a very stressful scenario. Now, we all probably approach this potential stress in different ways: some of us are planners, scheduling tasks in advance and checking off mountainous to do lists. Those of us who fall in this category may spend a quarter of our calendar year in holiday mode which may not be a real healthy place to live. Some of us are delayers, always having good intentions of getting things done but putting off the extra tasks for another day. Some of us are ignorers, we avoid thinking about holiday stuff until becoming panic stricken when we wake up and nothing is done. Those of us who fall into the ignorer category may thrive on the adrenaline producing challenge, but are you tired of the rollercoaster? No matter what your tendency is, do you want this holiday season to be a little different?
The first step is recognizing how you approach another item being added to what you are already juggling. Reflect on previous years, do you want things to be different this year? If the answer is yes, then take it as a challenge to try to make some different choices. Remember the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. As new requests, invitations, lists, and bills are being tossed your way, take some deep breaths and try to be realistic about what are reasonable demands for your time and energy, what is essential, and what do you really want for you and your family this season.
Hopefully some of the more specific tips listed will help you rediscover a technique or two that may help a little in counteracting holiday stress…
- What can you take out of your juggling routine while your adding extra things? If something is added, something needs to be paused.
- Plan your time and be realistic (give yourself extra time to shop, drive places, do holiday tasks…plan for delay)
- Say no to things if they aren’t a true yes (saying no opens yourself up saying yes to the things that matter)…there are only so many holiday parties/obligations/gift exchanges you (and your family) can be a part of. Of course there are family things that may be somewhat stress inducing. Instead of a full “no” can you create a schedule and stick to it? Can you make sure that there is a plan for exiting so that you don’t stay somewhere longer than planned? Take a little time right now, before the holiday season gets into full swing and evaluate the situation, reflecting on what your ideal holiday season looks like (this includes how you spend your time AND money). Try to make choices that align with your values and needs. If you don’t, you run the risk of becoming resentful and depleted.
- Make sure to have healthy options (don’t test your willpower day in and day out if you really don’t want to eat the snacks, cakes and cookies at the lunchroom or holiday party). Willpower only lasts so long and it is sure to subside after a long day of work or a surprisingly stressful encounter or demand.
- Don’t try to be superwoman (or man)…holidays sometimes bring out our inner superhero wanting to come to the rescue, do it all, be perfect. Try to keep that in check, especially during holiday season. Not everything has to be made from scratch, perfectly wrapped or color coordinated. Holidays are about relationships and experiences. Try to keep that in mind to help alleviate superhero syndrome.
We can’t get away from being reminded that the holidays are coming, so now when there’s a little more time, reflect on how you want the next couple of months to look and feel like. We will be better for it in our classrooms and in our homes. And maybe, just maybe instead of the holiday season being something that causes stress and overwhelm because of the expectations we put on ourselves, we have a more joyous one remembering what’s really important: relationships and time well spent together.