One Way to Avoid Stress This Holiday Season

Time Management HolidayMy mouth has started watering for the massive turkey dinner I’ll be consuming this week, which means the holiday season is officially upon us…and all the stress that comes with it. As the year winds to a close, our to-do lists get incredibly long. Deadlines, holiday gatherings, huge projects we’ve been putting off…they all start to weigh on us and interfere with our holiday cheer. This season, I have one piece of advice for you to try…

Lower Your Expectations

What? Really Emily? That’s the advice you have for us? Isn’t that kind of…depressing?

No. Let me explain.

If you’re a great time manager all year, there is no reason you can’t also be a great time manager during the holidays. The thing that changes seems to be our expectations. I’m reading a fascinating book called Stumbling on Happiness and the author mentions that humans are the only animal to think and make predictions about the future. We spend vast amounts of time envisioning what the future should be like, and then become extremely disappointed if it doesn’t pan out that way.

When is this ever more true than during the holidays? We’ve spent all fall crafting a picture-perfect holiday image, looking forward to knocking everything off our to-do lists, curling up by a roaring fire with our care-free do-nothingness, sipping some eggnog and listening to the rain fall lightly on our back porch.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have goals or look forward to certain things about the holidays. I’m saying stop being so hard on yourself when things don’t happen exactly as you envisioned. There might still be a few things on your list that cling there through January. The eggnog might be apple cider because you got to the store late and the guy in front of you grabbed the last jug. It’s OK.

This holiday season, let go of perfection. And also, let go of your smartphone for a few minutes while you’re at it.  Put your impossible expectations to rest and accept that you’re going to finish what you can, doing the BEST you can, and that’s going to be good enough. Find time to relax with your friends and family, even if it doesn’t end up looking like something straight out of a holiday TV special.

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