• Stephanie Hansen

To Make It the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Choose your Priorities Carefully

As the song goes, the holidays are supposed to be the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” The holidays are supposed to be about spending time with friends and family, about giving, about enjoying winter activities, about transitioning to the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice. I enjoy the holiday music, the movies, and the decorations. I always book a holiday show early in the season so that I can get in the spirit. And this year, with the unseasonably warm weather in MN, I even went a bit overboard with excessive outdoor holiday lights and decorations.

But, of course, this time of year also brings holiday anxiety. Sometimes the lead up to the holidays can feel overwhelming. The to-do list of things like holiday baking, shopping, gift wrapping, the office party and family gatherings can feel like too much. The holiday obligations can leave you feeling like a Grinch. It is hard to look forward to any of the fun holiday activities when the burden of the to-do list creates so much anxiety.

As a six cancer survivor, I feel that I need to live for the moment and enjoy the holidays. Thankfully, I am cancer-free, but I still driven to enjoy these holidays as though they were my last. I give myself permission to go overboard with my holiday lights and decorations. However, that pressure to make it the best holiday possible can also make it the worst. Like everything, I need to find balance and choose where I will put my time and energy into the season and you can too.

Here are some things that come to mind:

  • Define what you want your holidays to look like and be gentle with yourself in the lead up to the big day.

  • Maybe you let a few things go this year. Does the baking give you joy? If so, great, do it. If not, consider a shortcut and buy the cookies this year.

  • Do you enjoy wrapping the gifts? If not, find someone to help get your packages wrapped and ready.

  • Do you host a holiday party? What would happen if you took a year off?

  • Could you schedule a night out with your closest pals instead of that holiday party?

  • Consider a family potluck on the big day instead of a huge meal that all falls on your shoulders.

  • Maybe create new traditions that are meaningful to you and your family.

  • Do you have any vacation days? How about you take one for yourself. Sleep in, devote some of the day to the holiday errands and end it at a wine bar with a friend, a hot bath and a cup of peppermint tea.

Try to understand what you love to do, then do it. Figure out what merely creates anxiety, then do not do it. Simpler said than done, I know.

I encourage you to be easy on yourself this holiday season. This will enable you to go into the new year with energy and enthusiasm. You need to stay physically and emotionally healthy and balanced so that you continue to thrive.

Author, Stephanie Hansen is a radio personality, business owner, foodie, and cancer survivor.

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