In my house as soon as the calendar flips to November I AM READY for all of the fun and hustle that the holiday season brings! My Christmas tree goes up every year on November 1st – no, I’m not joking – and all of my decorations go up because I just need that happiness and harmony of the seasons. For me, the tree signifies Thanksgiving too – family time and gathering to be grateful for what we have!
Then I start to write down everything that needs to get done and the things we want to get done in these busy last two months of the year; I feel my heart start beating a little faster, my breath quickens a bit and I already feel the inevitable overwhelm and panic! There is SO much to do in November and December! Thanksgiving, and then of course Christmas, are literally only 2 out of the 60 days of these months and yet we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to do it all!
When I realized I had developed depression and anxiety, I had to take a serious step back and reevaluate. I noticed if things got too crazy, I went into auto pilot mode and I couldn’t feel anything. Nothing. I could still function and make sure my kids were taken care of but I couldn’t feel anything. I couldn’t even feel overwhelmed because my body would just keep going when my brain said “Nope! Limit reached! I’m out!” But when I fully understood (and admitted) that I had mental health issues, I knew I would need to change how active I could be during this time of hustle and bustle to remain the happy person I wanted to be. It was so hard for me to admit that I had to do everything differently from then on.
So to help others here is what I do to help me not overwhelm my anxiety:
- I write everything down on just a sheet of paper with all of the dates ahead of time to see ALL the options/activities.
- I star the activities that are mostly for my kids: concerts, class parties, days off of school, etc.
- I underline ones that I know I need to attend: family Thanksgiving, extended family dinners, company parties, church activities I’m in charge of, etc.
- I circle the ones I want to go to: Friendsgivings, friends cookie parties, favorite things parties, white elephant exchanges, etc.
- Then I get the calendar out and prioritize the activities: need to attend, kids, wants.
As I write them out on the calendar it helps me see what weeks will be killer if I try to do too much, and then I eliminate what I need to. Not to say that I always take the “wants” OFF that list. A lot of time I need that adult interaction of a friend’s party to recharge and remember I’m still Ali – not only a mom. You have to evaluate what is best for your mental well-being because it is different for everyone. Myself for instance, I need to have at least one night a week where I don’t have something. If I can’t get that breathing room I go insane. What I decide to fill the other nights of the week with depends on what is on the schedule. It could be a girls night, Thanksgiving pie making with my church youth group, prepping treats for my daughter’s Thanksgiving party in preschool (or the one in 1st grade) and forcing a night off in either the middle or end of the week! The thing you need to do is find your balance.
As we go into this holiday season, remember that you cannot give from an empty well. Keep yourself on the top of the priority list Mamas. I know it’s hard sometimes to say no to certain activities but I promise you, you and your family will be happier with you fully able to take on the fun this season brings!