Feeling overwhelmed

I stared at my rambunctious foster dog running circles through my living room wondering how on earth after two weeks she was still living with us.

I did not anticipate having her this long; she was with us strictly as a temporary rescue mission. She’s a great dog, but we just don’t have the space or time to do this long-term.

Around work and my normal commitments, I’ve been helping my oldest daughter organize a benefit concert as a fundraiser for her upcoming mission trip. My youngest daughter is in her post-season playoffs for field hockey, which translates to my being at games, college recruiting visits, making mac and cheese for team pasta parties and helping plan the end-of-the-year banquet.

And now it’s early November. You know what that means. It doesn’t matter that you just handed out candy to trick-or-treaters because now it’s officially the holiday season.

So how is someone who is already feeling overwhelmed head into the most overwhelming time of the year?

Purposefully and prayerfully (at least that’s my plan).

I am by no means a time-management expert but I have a few tricks up my sleeve as we approach the busiest but most wonderful time of the year!

1. Less can be more. I have five tubs of holiday decorations that I dread getting out each year because we use only about half of them.

This year my plan is donate whatever we don’t put out. I’ve considered doing this before but always thought “what if I decide I want to use that next year …?”

If it hasn’t been used in the last few years, chances are it’s not going to be, so it’s time, in the famous words of Elsa from Disney’s Frozen, to let it go. And I’m going to really venture out of my comfort zone and throw away all those candles that barely have enough wax left in them to light. That same principle applies to containers of near-empty cookie sprinkles.

2. Get enough rest. This is an exception when less is not more. Everything seems 10 times more overwhelming to me when I’m exhausted. I have to force myself some nights to just go to bed and tackle the “to-do” list the next day or I will be an overly caffeinated, easily distracted Grinch the next day.

3. Eat well. I really like Christmas cookies so this is not my favorite suggestion, but I know it’s a good one. Most of my family’s traditions involve high-calorie foods and lots of them so this is always a tough one for me. But just like not getting enough rest, not eating well takes a physical and emotional toll.

My goal this season is to not gain that average 10 pounds many people pack on during the holiday season. To do that will take some planning. If I’m out shopping, I plan to eat something healthy and satisfying before I go. At holiday parties, I will use the smallest plate I can find and fill it once with just a few treats. I won’t set myself up to fail or be miserable by being overly strict, but I will try to make healthy eating choices 80% of my week.

4. Put down the phone and shut off the laptop. We spend so much time connected to technology that we may not even be aware how much it is stressing us out! We can lose so much time scrolling through our social media newsfeeds when we aren’t mindful of it, which then takes a toll on our productivity. Use this season as an opportunity to focus more on face-to-face connections and activities.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Everything does not have to be perfect. If sending holiday cards seems as if it’s too much this year, don’t do it. If you love hosting holiday get-togethers but you feel overwhelmed, ask your family and friends to bring their favorite food item to share.

If you attempted that cute DIY Christmas wreath you saw on Pinterest and it looks like a bear chewed on it, don’t fret. I have had my fair share of Pinterest fails that my family and I laugh about years later. Hang up that wreath proudly!

Basically, don’t try to cram too many things into such a small time period because of pressure to find that perfect gift, make that perfect wreath or throw that perfect party. While it’s still early in the season, I plan to make a list of things that are my priorities and go from there. That way, I know I can focus on accomplishing the most important things; if I don’t reach the end of the list, Christmas at our house won’t be canceled.

That is not a comprehensive list of course, but I think it’s a start. Sometimes just being more aware of what triggers our stress can help us to experience a perspective shift. I want to get through these next months being the healthiest me I can be, while I help bring out the best in those closest to me.

So I guess that means I won’t be eating Christmas cookies for breakfast every day between now and New Year’s Eve ….

By Melissa Kindall
Manager, Social Media and Digital Communications Manager
Corporate Communications & Public Relations

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