Supermoms and Superdads Defense Against Holiday Kryptonite

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For my friend Mary (not her real name) every holiday season is predictable. She has her shopping list of gifts, grocery shopping list, a long list of errands to run, old friends to catch up with, parties to organize and attend, even a family to take care of. Inevitably, Mary gets burnt out, exhausted, and feels unappreciated. Ultimately, what was to be a wonderful happy holiday season ends up being a period of stress and anxiety that very nearly pushes Mary to the edge.

Last year, after volunteering at her child's school Mary rushed to get to a store before it closed. She was in such a hurry, she did not notice the car in front of her stopping short. It was a small fender bender, but the added stress  of the crash sent Mary to hospital for an anxiety attack that she thought to be a heart attack. This was a wakeup call for Mary that she needed to do something to save herself during the holiday rush.  

Every year, we all may face similar circumstances as Mary. We volunteer for things we do not have time for; we end up shopping at the last minute for that perfect gift; we even fight our way through the crowds at the stores only to end up burnt-out and exhausted, just like Mary. The holiday season is considered a time for joy and merriment but tends to slips past us as a storm of frustrations. At the end of December we end up bearing a load of resentment, high credit card bills and wishing for the "good old days" he had a long time ago.

There may not be a way to stop the flurry of activity, but there are some steps you can do to make today the "good old days" once again. All it takes is a small amount of planning and self care. Here are some tips to help protect you from the "holiday kryptonite".

Plan rewards for yourself. These rewards can be goal oriented (e.g. If I get all of my posters hung today, I get the little lighted holiday necklace I wanted). Rewards can also be  non-goal oriented. They are "stress reliever" rewards - little bits of goodness you know and love. The best person that understands what you want and need is you. If you plan for your happiness, then you will more than likely get it. This is your opportunity to recognize that there will be stress, chaos, frustration, and even anger in the coming weeks. If you strategize now and plan your little escapes and releases, you will be able to survive the holiday season much easier.

Spend 15 minutes a day, just for yourself. Turn off the phones, maybe the TV, lock the door to your room or quiet place, even take a drive. Just do a little something for yourself each day that you enjoy doing. Do it every day! This gives you the attention you rightly deserve; a free moment to recoup your thoughts and room to breathe again. With all the wonderful things the holidays have to offer, the sights, sounds, and merriment, this is your chance to take a moment to just enjoy them.

Set aside a small amount of money as "fun money" that is only used for you. Make sure is not enough to cause any stress about loss of money (bills, grocery, etc.). This money can be used to buy yourself that little reward that you have planned for yourself. Make it fun, it can even be silly and nonsensical. All that matters is that it is just for you and that it is something that you enjoy.

Recognize if you are feeling needy. Sometimes a stressful moment, paired with a needy feeling can be cause for a reward; this would be your non-goal oriented reward. Recognize that your needs are important. Needs are the way our mind, body, emotions, and even spirit remind us of what is important to us. You already watch out for the needs of your family and friends, now is the time to turn that watchful eye inward to see what you need. Remember, if you are coming from a place of fulfillment and strength, then you are in a place where you can give more to loved ones. Recognizing and resolving your personal needs is one way of refueling and revitalizing yourself.

Remember that you are important. Everyone in your life is happy to have you for all the things you do, and for who you are. Take a moment to recognize that you really are a wonderful person. In the crazy holiday season we get caught up in the chaos of giving. Taking a moment to accept the fact that you are giving, that you are doing "all this" for others means you are a wonderful person. Wonderful people deserve to be recognized. This another cause to use your special non-goal oriented reward. Recognize you are wonderful because of all the things you are doing for others.

Get plenty of Sleep. With all the hustle and bustle going on, it may be hard to sleep. But sleep is when the body, heart and mind reset themselves, stress is reduced, and most of the body's healing takes place. You may have thoughts and worries that pop into your mind as you are about to sleep. Do not ignore them or just push them away! If you try to ignore them they will come back in fury. Instead, take a moment to recognize and acknowledge the importance of the concerns coming to mind. Then talk to those concerns - yes, talk to them.

Tell them that there is plenty of time, tomorrow, to work on resolving them. Right now, you need your sleep so you can be well rested and able to give them the proper attention they deserve - tomorrow. Anytime a new concern pops up, treat it just the same way. With a small amount of due diligence you should find yourself sleeping soundly; waking, in the morning, well rested and ready to tackle a new day.

Ask for help. Don't be afraid to recognize when you need assistance. You are doing so much for other people, even taking time to recognize what you can do to help yourself and all of that can get overwhelming. This is when you need to check in with your needs and see if you need help. If you do, asking for help is the best way others can learn that you need something. Feel free to ask for help on shopping, running errands, setting something up, or anything else on your turbulent To-Do list. Most importantly, communicate that you are taking your rewards and that  your reward time is yours.

Mary is using many of these techniques, this year, and is finding that she is having a much better time than last year. She actually reported being able to smile after facing the crowds on the dreaded Black Friday. She simply gave herself the reward of a relaxing cup of hot coco and soft music because she made it through the day without a yelling at a fellow shopper. The thought of the relaxing moment was enough motivator to keep her spirits high and her emotions calm. Not to mention the after effects of the relaxing reward will have far reaching benefits for Mary for the rest of the holiday season.

The most important thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones this holiday season is to strategize your happiness. Take just a moment, now, to set up and declare the times and the things that are to be your rewards. In this moment you are taking, check in with yourself. What are you feeling needy about and what makes you feel good. Make a quick list of both your needs and your desires. Then set your rewards based on those lists. Be sure to take your rewards, as planned and when needed. Do something for yourself every day! If a reward goes unused, it may be a lost moment of potential happiness. This lost happiness is not just for you. It is a happiness that can easily be spread to loved ones, coworkers, and co-shoppers.

Take a moment, or several, this holiday season to enjoy the most important person in your life - YOU!

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