When I first sat down to write this article I was going to go off on a rant about the pressure I feel due to all of the things I need to do to get ready for the holidays like decorating the house, planning and buying all of the gifts, planning and buying the dinner that my husband and I get to host for our family each year, organizing our social calendar, bake for the kids classes and…and…and.

This is where I had to stop myself, and I’ll tell you why. Not too long ago I had a candid conversation with a team member who said…and I quote “I love the holidays. It is a time where I get to relax, spend time with family and exercise.” My first thought was “are you kidding me?”. Then I had to take a step back and realize they were right. The holiday season was not putting pressure on me. I was putting pressure on me. I realize that the pressure of the holidays will be there in some capacity but I can learn how to manage the pressure I feel more effectively.

This is where I reached out to my team to get their advice, and this is what I learned.

“Take Shortcuts – Downsize the Importance”
Okay…so this is my own advice but it really saved me. What I decided to do this year is buy store bought appetizers for our dinner we host, decorate the main 2 rooms of the house (instead of every room in the house) and I will wrap gifts in bags to save time spent wrapping. These three decisions will help take the pressure off. I mean family and friends come to see me, not my home or food.

“I don’t do anything. I avoid the whole thing.”
Yes, this response got me curious so I pushed a little further and what I found out was interesting.
“As a kid, Christmas was simpler. We might get one or two gifts and that’s it. Our focus instead was on time spent with family and friends at church, entertaining, snowmobiling or tobogganing. It wasn’t until we moved from New Brunswick to here (Ontario) that things changed. The holiday season became more about the gifts, and with gift buying comes an enormous amount of pressure. Pressure that we just needed didn’t want or need in our lives. So, that’s why we made a conscious decision to not make Christmas about gifts but about being together for as long as we have together. that’s why I am not stressed, I don’t feel pressure, Christmas will come and go. “

“I use pressure reducers from our book.”
There is one little thing that might get in the way of my holiday bliss this year – my wife is having neck surgery on December 16th and will confined to bed well into January! Here are my strategies to manage this new pressure situation I am facing. I will focus on this being a great chance for me to connect with my girls (13 & 10) more than I normally would, and support my wife when she really needs me. I will Breathe. Lots. I will meditate (albeit in short bursts as that’s what I am currently capable of) and I will downsize the importance. Whatever decoration, meal, present, tradition or whatever that doesn’t happen this year is not nearly as important as my wife’s health and my kids will understand.

“Self awareness”
Acknowledging the change this year brings for me and my family and knowing that is ok, I will survive as I have everything else so far.”

“Anchor of gratitude”
“I find my anchor of gratitude brings me back to the now – Christmas dinner with the kids will be the best yet because I have new found gratitude since.

“Positive self talk”
As a perpetual extrovert this one is important. Happy thoughts “YAY”, if that doesn’t work I go right back to self awareness and will engage is more meaningful thoughts”

“Gentle reminder”
“I remind myself often that the importance of this season is about spending time with family and friends and not necessarily about spending time and money and energy on getting the perfect gift or hosting the most perfect party.”

Congratulations on reading this article and for discovering how you can better manage the pressure of the holiday season. I mean, really…what does it matter that my tree is not perfect or some of the lights on the house burnt out or, dare I say, the prime rib gets slightly over cooked. I realized that my family and friends are not worried about that.