Wednesday, November 21, 2012

10 Tips for Staying Sane During The Holidays

Are your vegetables prepped? Your turkey brining? Pies baked? Are you ready for Black Friday? Have you made a list and checked it twice? Or fifty times?

As the winter holidays roll around, I get visions of Martha Stewart dancing in my head. I see beautifully decorated tables filled with mountains of glorious photo-ready food. I see guests swooning in delight with every morsel they taste. I see a snapshot of a Lifetime movie, with me as the hostess.

Reality check. I am not Martha Stewart. I cannot do it all.

And besides, none of my friends will watch Lifetime movies with me anyway. That should probably tell me something.

Last Christmas I went to such lengths to make perfect gluten-free recipes that I completely missed the point of the holiday. Family. Love. Togetherness.

This year, I'm doing things differently. This year, I'm focusing on what matters and letting go of what doesn't. 
"Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials." -- Lin Yutang (Thanks, Shirley, for this reminder!)
Want to join me in the Martha Stewart Holiday Perfection Recovery Club? Here's how: 

1. Start right now by getting out a piece of paper and making two columns. On the left side, write down everything you get out of trying to be perfect. On the right side, write down everything you get out of letting go of perfection. Everything. Even things that might seem silly or don't make sense. Here's an example of what my list would look like: 

2. Take a good long look at that list. Look at the left side. Look at the right side. Make an honest decision about which side feels better to you. If it's the side of perfection, forget the rest of this post and go get in the kitchen! You have homemade bread to bake! If it's the side of letting go of perfection, keep reading.

3. Have a chat with your inner superwoman.

4. Pick three simple words that describe the meaning of the holidays to you. For me they would be: Family. Peace. Warmth. Write down those words in big letters on a piece of paper and post them where you'll see them daily. Whenever you get that feeling that tells you you're trying too hard - you know the feeling, the tightness in your chest and angst-ridden need to breathe deeply - go stare at those words. Ask yourself if what you're trying to accomplish is in service to those values. If not, ask yourself how can you modify it or change it so that you're maintaining the meaning of the holidays in your actions. Example: Rather than spending hours baking bread, buy a loaf of bread at a local bakery and take a walk with your family instead. (Reality check: I'm sensitive to everything, so I know that many of you HAVE to bake your own bread because you can't buy it. This is just an example. Work with me...)

5. Pick a song you love to dance to and tell your family to play it every time you begin to turn into superwoman (a.k.a. supermeanie). Make a rule that you have to stop whatever you're doing and dance each and every time that song comes on. You can frown the whole time, but you have to dance. Use it as a reminder that your family would rather have you be happy than perfect.

6. Choose one thing that you're really good at. Aim to be perfect at that one thing and let everything else go. This year, I'm aiming to make the perfect gravy. But I'm not going to worry about making rolls, pie or anything else. If I have time, great. If not, I'll let it go. There's ALWAYS more than enough food at the table.

7. Delegate. If you ask someone else to help you, the task won't necessarily get done your way. But it will get done and you'll have more time to enjoy life.

8. Make a commitment to take a daily walk. Don't think you have time? Make time. Take a look at your to-do list and choose something that is not really that important and instead take a walk. You'll burn calories, relieve stress, and give yourself time to think clearly.

9. Let go of distractions. It's hard to DO EVERYTHING when you're constantly buzzing about like a bee from one flower to the next. Look at your list, pick the absolute essentials on it, and set aside time to do those things. Turn off your computer and cell phone if necessary during this time. Once you've accomplished the essentials, congratulate yourself and put your list away. Go kiss your husband/wife/partner/kid/dog/teddy bear.

10. Add one more item to your to-do list and put it at the top. Take care of myself. This is your #1 priority. It's a scary thought, I know. What would happen if you actually put your own well-being above anything else??!! Afraid to make that a priority? Give me a call and I'll remind you why taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do this holiday season AND EVERY DAY. Seriously. Here's my number. Call me anytime: 413-320-2402. Consider me your Martha Stewart Holiday Perfection Recovery Sponsor.

11. And here's a bonus tip. Give yourself a day off from Facebook, blogs, gossiping or any other activity in which you compare yourself to others. Believe me, NO ONE is as perfect as Martha Stewart. Even Martha Stewart. I know from experience that the more perfect someone seems on the outside, the more demons she's likely to be battling inside. Assume life is just as hard for everyone else as it is for you and have compassion for all the other Martha Stewart Holiday Perfection Recovery Club members out there.

Happy Thanksgiving and blessings to you all!  
No more social media for me until Thanksgiving is over. I have a baby niece to fawn over and some perfect gravy to make...


Ricki said...

A clear, calm, soothing voice of reason. . . as always! You may feel scattered and chaotic in person, but on your blog, what you offer us all is sage, sane and practical advice that we love. Thank you, Iris, for always telling me something important that I hadn't thought of, or hadn't thought of in quite that way, before.
Hope your Thanksgiving was stellar and that you enjoyed every moment!
Big Hugs, Ricki xo

gfe--gluten free easily said...

What a great post, Iris! I love that the quote I posted on FB inspired it. :-) Re: Martha Stewart, I think we also forgot that she has a staff at her beck and call. ;-) I love your list idea though. What do we really get out of having a "perfect" Christmas? And here's the thing, neither we nor our family members and friends remember the perfect holidays. As human beings we remember certain moments and usually it's the imperfect moments that we remember over the perfect ones. Think back to what you remember from Christmases and holidays in the past. Most go by in a blur. Yesterday at Thanksgiving dinner, we were reminiscing about holiday dinners past and only the imperfect ones came up and gave us a laugh, like the Thanksgiving where somehow most of the rolls ended up on the floor under the table. All of us were quietly thinking "who ate all the rolls?" It was only at the end of the meal that we discovered most of the rolls spilled onto the rug there. We never figured out what happened, but we still laugh about it. There have been dozens of other more "perfect" Thanksgivings, but they don't stand out. ;-) Go for the relaxed, imperfect holiday and thrive on it!



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