Be Kind to Yourself for the Holidays

The holidays are the most stressful time of year for many of us, with all of the extra things to do on top of our already too-full to-do lists, plus all those things we want to (or have to) tie up by year-end.

Adrenal fatigue is largely caused by stress, whether a single event, or more commonly, chronic overdoing it, so those of us who’ve reached this state need to be extra mindful when dealing with more stress. So, the best way to begin to heal from adrenal fatigue (or prevent it in the first place) is to avoid unnecessary stress whenever possible.

So to that end, here are some things I’m doing to be kind to myself–and reduce stress–for the holidays:

  • Decorating: stop worrying about outdoing or impressing anyone, and just put up those decorations that are meaningful to us and those we care for. Less is more!
  • Cooking: Nothing wrong with simplifying! Again, stick to those dishes that are particularly enjoyed, and skip the stuff we’ve been doing just because we’ve been doing it for years.
  • Parties: Go to the ones we enjoy, skip the ones we just feel obligated to attend when at all possible. And do we need to bring something? If not, don’t. If so (or if we really want to), get something easy we can just pick up. No need to bring a “famous” homemade dish that takes a lot of time and effort, unless it’s one of those things those we care about will really miss.
  • This year's Christmas card photo

    This year’s Christmas card photo

    Shopping: I hate crowds and traffic, so I do as much as possible online. And whether we go out or online, planning ahead helps us not only do the job faster and with less stress, but also helps us to spend less money we didn’t intend to (another source of stress).

  • Cards: This used to be one of the most stressful aspects of the holidays for me, because I used to design fancy, custom ones and printed my own. Invariably, the designing took far longer than necessary, and the printer would jam several times before I got them all printed, and maybe would run out of ink, too. I now just upload a few photos to Shutterfly and order them there. Not cheap, even with the special offers, but still uniquely ours and sooooo much easier.
  • Addressing cards: I buy Avery shipping labels (or similar) and use Word templates and a mail merge to fill ’em in. Much easier than hand writing!
  • Gift wrapping: I still can’t stomach paying Amazon $3.49 to wrap a gift, but my wrapping has gotten much simpler over the years. When I was in school and had much less stress (not to mention no job), I loved to wrap fancy gifts with tons of extra ribbons and bows. Now they get wrapped, and maybe a bow, and about half just go into a gift bag. I remember one high school friend whose parents used to wrap each kid’s presents in a one specific paper. No gift tags; everyone knew which was theirs just from the paper. And it was the gift that mattered, not the wrapping job. Brilliant!
  • Treating yourself: I got a haircut this week. That may be no big deal to many of you, but I hadn’t taken the time to do this one simple thing for over six months! So I went to Square One Salon, where they include a mini-facial with the cut, which was so relaxing and worth it. I will not wait so long to go back.
  • And yes, I also spent plenty of time reading!

Speak of LoveWhat I read this week: I finished the novel Speak of Love by Linda Madl. This is a historical romance set in the 17th century Scottish isles. The characters were well-drawn, interesting, and believable for the time period while still sympathetic, but what I especially liked about this book was the real history that was worked in. This did not have a lot of steamy stuff in it, but was definitely not a “sweet” romance either–IMO the sensuality level was just right for the story, the characters, and the other things going on. If you enjoy historical romance, pick this one up!

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I’m going to consider this week a “failing successfully” week. I was completely not thinking when I set a goal of making the big picture changes in the rest of my WIP. Turns out it needs two more scenes, which I realized as I reworked the last one, not to mention that making the big-picture changes is more of a job than I thought, given the scope of the major change introduced 3/4 through the first draft. So my goal for this week is to complete one of the new scenes, or 1500 words–a reasonable goal, as I also still need to finish Christmas shopping, and I have a party to attend that I am really looking forward to.

What about you–do you find yourself stressed over the holidays, or are you good at being kind to yourself? And in what was do you do that? Got any additional tips or ideas? How are you doing on whatever goals you might be working toward, whether writing-related or not? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

10 Responses to \

  1. If I get stressed during the holidays, it’s my own damn fault. And that’s because I procrastinate. This year I’ve gotten a lot done early, but only because I don’t want to deal with it after our cruise (and only a few days to do it at that!). I need to remember this next year, though. Get it done early and then just enjoy! 🙂

    But I’m like you when it comes to decorating. Who am I trying to impress? No one. So I only decorate what I want (and feel like). My favorite decoration? A sign that says: “This is as merry as we get.” I love it! 🙂

  2. This year I got a head start on some of my Christmas shopping, which has definitely alleviated some of the stress for me. Now that I’m no longer working multiple jobs, I plan to bake cookies for our close family and friends. It will take additional energy, but I’ve been getting into cooking and baking more as of late, so it should be fun.

    Glad to hear you pampered yourself a little last week. We all need a spa day every now and then.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ve downloaded a sample to my Kindle.

    Have a great week!

  3. This is a lesson that it took me 45 years to learn. For the past few years, though, I’ve taken this to heart! As my energy level drops, I need to slow down even more, but it doesn’t mean I’m not able to enjoy the holidays anyway. It just means I get to go elsewhere, to family, to enjoy *their* holidays, and hten go home where it’s nice and quiet and restful! Yay!

  4. Jennette, I am so happy that you’ve found a reasonable balance in your schedule. Yes, this is a busy time of year and demanding as well. Just wondering if your doctor has suggested supplemental adrenal support so that your own adrenals can repair themselves. I don’t know what I would do without it. Nevertheless, I am so glad you’re taking good care of yourself my friend so that you can enjoy this time with your family. 🙂

  5. Haha Stacy, I love your sign, LOL! And yes, getting as much as possible done early is a big relief!

    Denise, have fun with your baking–and I hope you enjoy Speak of Love!

    Tammy, enjoying the holidays with family and friends then coming home to rest sounds great–enjoy yours!

    Karen, they did give me supplements, and they do help, but slowly. And we still need to be mindful of stress. That’s good advice for anyone, IMO. And thanks!

  6. Now see – I love your Christmas cards! I don’t have the patience to try to do something that clever, so I have to resort to the boxed cards from the supermarket.

    And good for you for knowing your boundaries. Life is too short not to enjoy the days so don’t do the stuff you don’t enjoy (unless you absolutely have to) and really, truly enjoy the things you do participate in.

    Have a great week Jennette!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  7. I come from a holiday- frenetic family; I married a man who DOES NOT DIG all the hoopla of Christmas.

    For the first too many years of our marriage, that caused problems- and then we learned how to navigate the holidays.

    He discovered some of the joy through our children, and I toned it waaay down.

    We stopped doing cards at all in 2003. It wasnt intentional; I had sent out a fancy,self-printed card and newsletter in 2002, proclaiming to the world that our second child would be born in July…and on July 13, he was. On July 25, he died.

    There is no card or newsletter to share that type of news…and so I didn’t. Years passed, and I just stopped worrying about it, even though most people know about Elijah, and, if they don’t, the immediacy has passed…

    I communicate online, now, and don’t feel a need to do cards. (But I LOVE yours).

    This years tree is a 2 foot tabletop tree, pink and glittery and bedecked with an eclectic blend of ornaments, from family ones to hand-drawn paper ones to Agent P in his fedora…it belongs to our 10 year old, as she’s the only one who wanted a tree this year. It’s on her art desk in the living room, where we can all enjoy it; but it’s totally her own. She’s also decorated the desk with garland. It’s the perfect amount of decoration for us…

    May your holidays pass in peaceful joy! =)

  8. Patricia, thanks! My cards are easy. Just pick a design on Shutterfly, upload some photos, and there you go!

    Shan, marrying someone who does not get into Christmas was part of the issue here, too. Like you, I learned to deal with it by compromising. I don’t blame you for stopping cards after bad news like you had the one year. It sounds like you’ve made your holiday traditions fit your family perfectly!

  9. You are so smart, Jennette.

    I still have pumpkins by my front door and have trouble believing November is over. Bit by bit, I’ll prepare for Christmas, but this one will be very low-key.

    We can’t do it all and be everything to everybody. Why does it take so long to learn those lessons.