Sing it with me… “It’s the most relaxing time of the year.”

A crackling fire, hot chocolate, and holiday movie marathons create a magical wonderland. And, if only we lived in a snow globe for months at a time too.

Instead, families are stuck in another kind of bubble.  One with heavy workloads, big to-do lists, and a lot of travel and entertaining.

This social whirlwind is synonymous with the season. Here are the numbers.

On average, 86 percent of Americans plan to attend a holiday gathering. That same number is projected to purchase gifts for family and friends. Up to 65 percent mail holiday cards, while spending less time volunteering and socializing with neighbors. And, with all of this racing around, 90 percent of working parents would secretly prefer a family vacation. According to the Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project, we’re focused on the least enjoyable activities, endlessly striving for a “perfect” holiday.

It’s a lot of pressure, to say the least.

For some, the tendency to withdraw is a common symptom known as holiday distress. The overwhelm causes folks to disengage, altogether, from their commitments according to Acacia Parks, Ph.D., chief scientist at Happify and associate editor at the Journal of Positive Psychology.

The thought of seeing friends or relatives you’d rather avoid, trying to be the quintessential party host, and taking on exhausting seasonal commitments, throws any semblance of self-care out of whack. Appointments are obligations rather than joyous overtures, and there’s pressure to be happy even if we feel anything but that.

So, when our work life and personal life is off balance, how can we course correct? My team of communication experts would agree – you must make your calendar work for you, not control you.

Here are some seasonal solutions to help you nix the juggle and enjoy the “holiday huddle.”

  • Start a shared calendar.
    If your family documents their schedule in a shared file, you can all plan ahead. The integration of school commitments, extracurricular activities, work, and seasonal duties can help you pull it all together. Not to mention, you’ll appreciate how much everyone does.  This kind of communication holds up a mirror and can even indicate time chunks where you might be doing too much. Ultimately, identifying the opportunities for some meaningful conversations.
  • Hold a family powwow.
    Have a breakfast outing with your family to discuss anticipated events and goals for the holiday season. Develop a plan for everything, from babysitting to budgeting for gifts, that provides clear guidelines and zero guesswork. Pausing and discussing anticipated events not only alleviates stress, but it also allows you to gain alignment on what’s most important to everyone.
  • Give yourself the gift of pausing.
    Jeff Ikler, of Quetico Career and Leadership Coaching, reminds us to speak nicer to ourselves during the holidays. We often say to our loved ones, “I love you” or “I appreciate you.” But with all that we’re juggling between life and work, we don’t often assess what’s important to us. Throw in some self-care because no one can do that for you. Even if this means turning down a party or two, you’ll keep a sense of personal balance, which is sacred.

 And for single parents juggling it all, enlist the help of a friend or family member during this busy time. Sometimes just asking is all it takes.

  • Get an accountability partner.
    Sometimes we need more than a day planner to feel organized. Primarily, this is because we need to process our emotions too. When we have “mind chatter” during our waking hours, it’s hard to shut off, particularly if our to-do list is miles long. A coach can help you get out of your own way, communicate effectively, and strengthen your relationships during the busiest time of the year. Check out Hello’s Coaches Corner and prevent some common holiday issues.

With these tips, you’re sure to hush the holiday rush and enjoy that hot cocoa by the fire.


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