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Overcome Holiday Overwhelm

Overcome Holiday Overwhelm

By: American Nurses Association

Between juggling long shifts, patients in critical care, and trying to get yourself and your family ready for holiday festivities, it’s no wonder experiencing the joy of the season can be a challenge. Here are some ideas to simplify during this stressful time, so you, too, can be jolly!

Take a small step each day

Feeling stressed about all you have to do before the holidays? Take a moment to identify what’s stressing you. Is it getting a perfect picture of your kids for the cards? The fact that you have so many presents to buy? Make a list of all of your stressors. Then, pick one small thing you can do to make progress. Go through your children’s closets and select the outfits you want them to wear for the Christmas photo. Jot down the names of everyone you need to buy Hanukkah gifts for and brainstorm ideas for 15 minutes. Make a preliminary list of what you want to include in your family’s karamu feast for Kwanzaa. Then decide to tackle one more small task tomorrow.

Make a plan

Take out your calendar and write down when you can tackle holiday planning. They don’t have to be thought-out plans either. If you’re getting anxious because you don’t have a new recipe for this year’s cookie exchange at work, pick a date on the calendar a few days to a week before the event and write down, “research cookie recipes.” Since you already have the time booked, you can stop feeling anxious. Follow suit with other holiday tasks and plot them out on your December calendar.

Go on a “holi-date”

Do feel so overwhelmed by all you have to do, so much so that it’s overshadowing your excitement about the holiday? Think of one holiday event that means the most to you. Is driving around your neighborhood and admiring the decorations a “must do?” Or is taking your kids caroling and drinking hot chocolate what gets you into the spirit? Maybe it’s going to your town center’s Christmas Tree or menorah lighting? Pick one thing that clearly symbolizes the holidays for you and do it. Let other things fall to the wayside if life gets in the way.

Take a pass

As nurses, we tend to put too much on our plates and jump into rescue mode at the first sign of trouble. This year, see if you can delegate some holiday responsibilities to someone else or pass on them entirely. You might not be able to shrug off buying gifts, but if volunteering to run your daughter’s holiday pageant is something you dread, take a pass. Are you the one who has to organize the party at your workplace? See if a newer enthusiastic staff member can take the reins this year.

Give yourself a break

Take 10 minutes for yourself every day, especially during the holidays.

Switch it up

Is this holiday season hitting you especially hard because of the death of a loved one, an illness in the family, or another loss or hardship? Instead of repeating holiday traditions that may make you remember past holidays or that may be painful for you, consider creating a new tradition. Go out for a holiday dinner, see a movie on Christmas eve, or schedule a last-minute vacation (they’re good for you).

Remember the big picture

Although it can be stressful, the holiday season is a time for appreciating the good in our lives and giving thanks for family and friends. If you don’t send out the perfect year-end holiday letter this year or you botch your mother’s traditional English trifle recipe, it’s OK. Try to remember the true spirit of the season, then take a deep breath and enjoy it.

How do you deal with holiday overwhelm? Share your tips in the discussion or on Facebook. Find this helpful? Consider sharing it with a friend on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #HealthyNurse.

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