Escaping The Holiday Red Zone
Just a few hours before a writing deadline, and here I am, staring at a blank page like a kitten asked to do math.
What’s the problem?
The problem is that this time of year is crazy busy and my brain is working on 862,000 different items, causing the worst case of brain fog I’ve ever had. There’s work, school, the Christmas program quickly approaching, and the usual holiday “To-Do List”. As each day of December ticks by, I become more and more stressed. The cards aren’t sent out yet. I haven’t wrapped one present yet. The pile of unfinished and unstarted projects mounts up, causing my anxiety index to hover in the red zone.
Brain fog. Isn’t it wonderful? Instead of having more clarity and efficiency, I can tell my usual strategies are failing. I began thinking about what I needed to do in order to turn chaotic thoughts into strategic planning. Here’s what I did. Maybe some of these tips will help you as well.
Okay, I realize this may be adding to the initial stress level, but hear me out. I find if my work area is untidy, so are my thoughts. For some reason, clutter and chaos affect my productivity. If you are in that same boat, take time to do some organizing and cleaning. Dust of those flat surfaces. Clearing cobwebs from the corners may clear your mind as well. I’m not talking about deep cleaning the entire house in one shot. I’m talking about wherever you need to sit and focus, making sure the area is cozy, comfy, and clean.
This is a very old strategy, but it still works. But what happens when everything has to be done now? Take a deep breath and examine each task. Does it really need to be done right now? Are you giving the task a higher priority than it needs? For example, I have cards to do and presents to wrap. Now. However, as I examined those two items, I knew I was giving a higher priority to the gift wrapping. Sure, they would look wonderful under the tree, but in reality, I have a little time before I have to panic over that. Right now, the cards need to get done.
3. Lower Your Expectations
I know, that sounds bad. But many times, we expect too much not just out of ourselves, but each other. You can’t be everywhere, and you can’t do everything. That Christmas party one night might be too much for your schedule that week. Let it go. Don’t have time to bake and decorate cookies? That’s fine. Buy them at a local bakery and support a small business. Maybe putting up every piece of Christmas décor you have in your arsenal is an overwhelming thought. Don’t do it. Put up whatever you feel is right for your energy level and available time limits. The rest of the decorations will keep until next year.
4. Take a Rest
Take a nap. Read a book. Zone out in front of your favorite movie. Work on a hobby. Typically, spending time partaking in an activity that fuels your passion will refresh you mentally and emotionally. Sometimes that is all we need. Other times we need physical rest. That is also a great way to recharge. I’m not saying drop of out sight until all the hoopla is over. But take an afternoon, or even a day, to recharge your batteries.
Oh, yes. The “D” word. No, you don’t have to do everything. You don’t have a cape, catsuit, and high-heeled thigh boots. It is a good thing to let others help in the preparations. Even if all you need is someone to make dinner so you can finish up a soon-to-be-submitted article. By letting others in the family help prepare, they learn to appreciate the work it takes to make the season merry and bright. Also, in the case of children, teenagers, and young people still living at home, it will help them to learn how to make their own homes festive when the time comes.
Don’t let stress and anxiety wipe out the wonderful season we are in. This is a season of hope and peace. Let’s not lose our own sense of joy. If done correctly, all the tasks on the To-Do list can contribute to our own sense of peace rather than detract from it. And for Pete’s sake, confine that Elf on the Shelf to the garage. No one needs that much pressure.
Image by Helena Jankovičová Kováčová from Pixabay