Are you already feeling too exhausted to shop for gifts and plan a holiday meal? Though it's only the beginning of December, are you yelling at your kids more than you'd like? Are the 'jolly' smiling people around you getting on your nerves because you're feeling overworked and don't have enough time to juggle your regular life along with the long list of holiday related errands and preparations?
If this sounds like you, you're not alone! You're suffering from a case of what I call the Holiday Humdrums (or Ho Hums for short!) In fact, believe it or not, even kids experience the Ho Hums when they are overtired, overwhelmed or over stimulated.
It's easy to get caught up in the Ho Hums. We are inundated with party invitations, long shopping lists, events to plan, and a nagging feeling that we're supposed to be 'joyous' when we're just not quite feeling it. The pressure to be in the 'holiday spirit' can be overwhelming and upsetting, particularly if you really want to feel the way the media tells you that you should be feeling at this time of the year!
Well...I have a cure for the Ho Hums! If you take the following four straightforward steps, you will be able to enjoy the holidays without feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. You will also find that the true meaning of the season will come clearly into focus, giving you the feelings of happiness and joy you've been searching for. And, of course, if you're feeling happier and more relaxed, so will your kids!
1. Have realistic expectations. The hype of the holiday season is created and driven in large part by the media and retail industries, both of which are interested in selling their products (advertising space and gifts). In the real world, it is almost impossible to have a holiday as perfect as any you see on TV or in a store display. If you don't expect to, you won't be disappointed. Children will have meltdowns and finances will limit gift giving. Educate your child about the difference between hype and reality as well.
2. Think about the true meaning of the holiday. Remember and remind your child of the true spiritual reasons for celebrating this season. The gifts are secondary-really and truly! Resist the urge to make them the main event and your child will too. When your spiritual self is uplifted, everything else follows.
3. Get enough sleep. Resist the urge to attend (and take your child to) every single party, and don't be the last to leave. Making sure you and your child get enough sleep is critical for getting you through the season happily (sleep deprivation is associated with depression and grouchiness) and healthily (it is also associated with illness).
4. Give more than you get. Economically, this is a tough holiday season for many. However, no matter what your situation, you will feel enriched if you donate-money, time, emotional support, a place at your dinner table-to someone else. This is the heart of the holiday spirit. Live it and teach it to your children.
Dr. Susan Bartell is America's number one family psychologist. Her latest book is Dr. Susan's Fit and Fun Family Action Plan. You can learn more about Dr. Bartell on her Web site: www.drsusanbartell.com.