Bring On The Holidays: 4 Steps To Eliminate Overwhelm & Have Your Best Season  

Welcome to the holidays! October is the kickoff month. We start off with Halloween and things really don’t wind down until we get through New Years.  

​​​​​​​I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about managing your way through the next few months. I want to talk about strategies to make sure this is your best season. I’m hoping after this episode you’ll feel more at ease knowing your next steps to stop overwhelm from entering your mind. You’ll feel more organized than ever and you won’t waste time doing the wrong things.

There are just so many things that get added into the holidays.  Let’s take a moment to think about some of the most common.
First, we couldn’t start a list about holiday preparations without talking about home repairs and maintenance. The typical story is that something in your home needs to be repaired or updated.  You enjoyed your summer. Now you’re ready to get busy and get things done.  
​​​​​​​Everyone’s coming to your house for Thanksgiving and you want all the work to be complete.  I would say that reupholstering furniture, adding needed window coverings and freshening up that guest bedroom and bath are common projects for a lot of people. 

Friends and relatives are coming to town and you want to have things nice for the occasion.  This takes time and organization. You have to decide what to do and how to do it. You may need to hire someone to help you get things done.  We’ll come back and talk about this but let’s move on to the second thing that many of us get caught up in this time of year. 

The second thing that might be on your list of things to do to get ready for the holidays is something that can be a lot of fun but time consuming and expensive. I’m talking about the decorating you do for each holiday.  

​​​​​​​Putting up holiday lights is on this list but some people go a little crazy with holiday decor in every room of their house, changing it out for each holiday. You know if you’re one of these people and I’m sure you love doing it.  You’ll love it more if you feel like you have enough time to do your thing so we’ll talk about a strategy for you.

Social engagements are the third tronch on the to-do list for the holiday season. Maybe you have obligations during the holidays that require a new outfit or two. Maybe you want to pull together a group of special people for a memorable day or an evening event. Figuring out what to do, coordinating the dates, scheduling everything that will go into the gathering…it takes a lot of effort. It takes time. 

In the last podcast with Laura Vanderkam called "How To Curate Marvelous Memories & Feel Off The Clock", Laura said that effortful fun is so much more enjoyable but a lot of people don’t do it because it’s not as easy as doing something effortless like scrolling through your social media or binge watching a season of your favorite show.  In that episode Laura explained that adding a bit of novelty into our family gatherings is what creates memories. She said that sameness blends together but novelty stands out in our minds and helps to create memories.   

If you want to make this holiday season more memorable, you’ll want to add some novelty so that you’re not doing the same ol’ same ol’ as you’ve done every year.  Of course, doing something novel takes more time and planning so we’ll talk about a strategy for this.

So now we come to gift giving. Gifting during the holidays is in a category by itself. Who are you going to give gifts to? What are you going to give? How are you going to present it? Being thoughtful, staying within some kind of a budget, and the presentation of that gift takes some creativity and intention. Some people have this down. They could go professional in this category. For a lot of us, gift giving throws us into overwhelm. We’ll talk about a strategy here.

Finally, I want to add just one more item to your to do list for the holiday season. I want to talk about maintaining your health and wellness. It’s easy to get dragged down by the to do list. To feel the list of things you’ve put yourself up to accomplishing is overwhelming.  

If you’re an over achiever, and you probably are, you manage to get everything done but your health and well-being may suffer.  Instead of enjoying your days leading up to these big holidays, you’ll feel like you’ve been shot out of a cannon each morning. Let’s face it, the holidays are a lot to handle. We’ve just talked about all these things you have to do and we haven’t even mentioned the awkward dinners. We haven’t talked about feeling sadness during the holidays over the loss of a loved one.  Maintaining your health and wellness needs to be on your list this holiday season.
Let’s review the 5 common categories on holiday to-do lists.

#1 is home repairs and maintenance which could mean reupholstering a chair or it could mean new towels for the guest bathroom.

#2 is decorating for the different holidays which could mean putting up lights or it could mean a full-on haunted house for Halloween. It all depends on you.

#3 on the to-do holiday list are all those social engagements. Parties, dinners, making a gingerbread house with your grand kids. The list will be different for everyone.

#4 is the gift giving.

#5 is perhaps the most important and the one you’re most likely to take off your list.  It’s your own health and wellness.

Let’s talk about how you can manage your way through the next few months to make sure this is your best season. I’m hoping after listening to this episode and putting your thoughts down on the fun sheet, you’ll feel more at ease knowing your next steps to stop overwhelm from entering your mind. You may be wondering right now, what is a fun sheet? What is she talking about? 

I created a fun sheet that includes the things we’re talking about and helps you map out a strategy for your holidays to maximize your joy and minimize any overwhelm. If you want to gift yourself with more serenity, you may want to take a moment now and download this fun sheet so you can begin personalizing the content I’m sharing with you today. If you’re driving just keep listening and you can download the fun sheet later.

Drum roll please for Step 1 to eliminate overwhelm!

This is a really important foundation for your entire holiday happiness.  Put a lot of thought into this one since it supports all the other steps in the process I’m going to share with you.  For every to-do item that’s on your list, write down every bit of the process of accomplishing that to-do item.  

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’ve been meaning to get a new chandelier for over your dining table.  Your might need to measure and write down the dimensions of your dining table, the width, length, and height of your dining space, and the size of your current chandelier you want to replace. You could look online for the replacement but you might also go to a lighting store and work with the sales person to identify your best options.  You’ll probably need to take some time deciding which chandelier you like best before you place an order. After it arrives,  you can either hang it yourself or call an electrician to install the chandelier. 

In the health and wellness category, you will want to think of a routine that will serve you during this hectic season. If you usually spend your Saturdays hiking but holiday schedule is going to interfere with this routine, you may want to change things up by starting each day with a walk or ending some of your work days with a yoga class. 

All of these new activities that are not already built into your regular schedule should be written down on the fun sheet. Do this for everything you want to accomplish this holiday season.  Step one is where you start figuring out the what, where, where, how, and with whom for the next several months. We’ll continue to drill down on the specifics in the next few steps.

After you list out all the activities that go into completing each to-do item, you’re ready for step 2.  This is where you’ll decide how much time you need for each part of the process of accomplishing your to do list. Some parts of your process might only take minutes but most things will require at least an hour.  You may begin to feel like you want to change your process to make it more streamlined. Maybe you can outsource or delegate something.  Even that will take some of your time and oversight. 

Allow a little extra time to figure out something novel that you can do with your family and friends to build lasting memories. Give yourself enough time to be creative and have a beautiful presentation of each gift you want to give. Figure out the time needed for any new routines you’re implementing this season for your health and wellness. 

You may decide at this point that some to-do items need to be completely eliminated. Maybe a certain friend group could get together in January when things slow down. If you don’t have time for everything, prioritize your list. Step 2 is really focusing on the when and how of your holidays.

Step 3 is to map all of this out on your calendar. Here’s where you’ll see overlaps. Having too many things to do all at the same time isn’t going to add to your health and wellness. If you’re committed to being the best version of yourself, then you’ll have to address the overlaps. By addressing the overlaps, I mean making some hard decisions about what will fit into your calendar. You may have to say no to something so that you can say yes to your health and well being. You may have to outsource something or postpone a certain activity so that you can really enjoy the days of this holiday season.  

In step 3 you’re doubling down on the when and how of your holidays. When I have to make trade offs in terms of my time, I think about the 80/20 rule. It’s called the Pareto Principle and states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. I start asking myself, what can I do that will take 20% of my time but produce 80% of my satisfaction? What efforts will bring the most joy and connection into my life?  I even apply this rule of thumb to decorating for the holidays. What are the 3 spots in my home where I can add some holiday specific decorations and get the most bang for my buck (and my time). Depending on the holiday, my answer is a little different but my front door and my the dining table always get the bulk of my attention.

Step #4 is to start implementing what you put on your calendar WHILE  you keep checking in with yourself on how you’re feeling. Does one activity create a pit in your stomach? If so thank your stomach for speaking to you. Sit with the feeling. Acknowledge it. Be curious with yourself on the sensation you’re feeling and the reasons behind it.
​​​​​​​Be curious if your thoughts are true.  What is your inner wisdom trying to tell you? Somewhere inside yourself there’s a disconnect. Don’t run from it.  Ponder and turn your thoughts upside down.  Most of us have a bunch of old tapes playing in our mind that have outlived their usefulness. One of those tapes is that we have to do things a certain way because we’re valued by what we do. The truth is that we should be valued for who we are, not what we do.  If you’re an overachiever, you may have a hard time with this idea but I’m asking you to value your health and wellness during this holiday season.

If the thought of finding a parking spot at the mall is causing a bit of dread, maybe there’s another way? If you’re going there to find an outfit for the party, maybe there’s something in your closet that will work instead. If you’re going there for a gift, maybe there’s an online solution.  Maybe there’s an experience you could gift instead of a physical present. You can adjust as you go. You’ll find unexpected resources or think about things in different ways as you make your way through this season.  It’s not too late to modify your plans.

I’ve created space on the fun sheet for you to write down what you changed and why. This is really valuable information to keep for next year so that you can remember what did and didn’t work well for you and how you might like to change things going forward. If you don’t write it down and keep it in a place where you’ll use it next year, you’ll probably try to repeat the things that didn’t work for you. We get busy and just forget some parts of our past experience. I like to save a holiday file that includes gift lists and the number of Christmas cards I actually sent out so I can order the right amount the next year. That’s the file where I’ll put this fun sheet so I can refer to it next year. 

The holidays are here. Are you ready to eliminate the overwhelm and take care of yourself over the next few months? I encourage you to say yes and give this gift to yourself.

If you're an overachiever, you manage to get everything done but your health and wellness suffers.~ Design Your Second Half, the podcast
Wishing you a lifestyle you love,

 ~ Nancy
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