One more thing

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Photo courtesy of patriziasoliani (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of patriziasoliani (Creative Commons)

Ever have that feeling that you are dealing with about as much as a person can deal with in terms of tasks, obligations, challenges and stress? That you are hanging on by your fingernails and one more thing will send you over the edge?

I think many of us feel that way this time of the year with the added pressures of decorating, buying gifts, parties and get-togethers and family expectations. Throw in weather concerns, increased chances of sickness and money problems and you have the makings of a nervous breakdown.

Before that “one more thing” sends you over the edge, take a few steps to protect yourself and ensure you make it through the season sane and in one piece.

  • Recognize you can’t do it all – while it is tempting to think we are Superman or Wonder Woman, we need to realize that we are not. There is only so much time in the day and only so many things that a person can focus on, and we need to lighten up on ourselves when things get so out of control. Yes, it is nice to take home-baked goods to that party, but if that means staying up all night to bake, wouldn’t it be better to buy some nice pastries and get some sleep?
  • Take care of yourself – you are no good to anyone if you push yourself so hard that you end up sick and/or exhausted. That’s when we experience temper flare-ups, poor decisions, and mistakes that can lead to even bigger problems. Get some rest, eat properly, exercise, and cut yourself some slack.
  • Develop a plan – at the time you feel least able to take a moment to plan, that’s when it is most important. Even if you only plan your morning, or the day, it’s important to take a step back and make good decisions on what you need to do. You might realize that you can save time or energy by combining errands or tasks, or that if you do things in the right order, it will make it easier to get finished.
  • Create a backup plan or contingencies – as important as it is to have a strategy, it’s also critical to have a backup plan. That outdoor activity is great but what if it rains – or worse, snows? And if the key person suddenly has the flu, who else can step in? Don’t spend a lot of time on backups, but at least have some options in mind.
  • Be comfortable with the word “no” – this is the one that continually haunts me. Learn to say “no,” or at least “not now.”  When you have so many obligations already, saying yes to one more may be your downfall. Consider new commitments carefully and decide whether it is worth it. People will understand if you respectfully and thoughtfully decline, and will appreciate your honest explanation that you already have too much on your plate.

By taking these steps, it is possible to avoid that trap of “one more thing.”  Take a step back from the edge of the cliff, and allow yourself to enjoy this season. What’s the first thing you need to do today to prevent a breakdown?

Stepping back from the frenzy

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Photo courtesy of Evan Moss (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Evan Moss (Creative Commons)

It seems like in our busy lives, especially this time of year, that we are adding more and more commitments, allowing less and less time to rest. For many, work gets busier at the end of the year, there are family get-togethers, parties, events, and let’s not forget the cooking, baking, travel, and shopping.

Black Friday typically signals the start of the wildness.  I’m tired and out of breath just thinking of it all.

This year, I’m trying a different strategy. Instead of frantically fighting the crowds and filling up my calendar, I’m stepping back and refilling myself. Instead of getting up and out to the stores to catch all the great sales, I’m spending the day at home, easing into my holiday and savoring the quiet and solitude.

To me, the meaning of the season gets lost in all the hoopla. The calendar and task lists rule and the focus is on the material and physical gifts, crowding out the time for reflection and spiritual growth.

Instead, I’m building in time for rest. Gifts may be donations to charities in honor of family and friends. I hope to spend quality time with people in smaller settings. Worship will be a large part of what I do.

I don’t want to get to the end of the year worn out and spent.

So what about you? How can you step back this holiday?