Yes or No this year

We’ve reached that time of year when everything can be thrown at us.  Go to another party?  No problem.  Buy 3 more gifts that you weren’t expecting?  No problem.  Bake enough cookies to feed a small army?  Again, no problem.

At what point does it begin to be a problem for you?

I’ve noticed that like so many other people I know, that I can over schedule myself between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.  (My daughter was born on New Year’s Eve, so the holidays definitely continue through the New Year in my house.)  My son is in concerts and I wouldn’t miss a one of them.  I have family to see and food to prepare, presents to buy and to wrap.  On top of that I still have to do my normal work schedule and all the regular things at home.  Sound familiar?

What I’ve also noticed is that sense of relief when I can justify saying no to someone and not feel guilty about it.   I want to do the fun things and create the memories that I will look back on later in life.  I also want to relax and just enjoy this time of year without all of the ‘crazy’.  More and more I’m realizing that pacing myself between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is very important.  To do just that, I have to say ‘no’ to some things.

In the last few years, I’ve cut back on some of those ‘must do’ activities.  This happened partly out of necessity and partly out of desire.  A few years ago, I was sick in the fall and it dragged on into the holidays.  I just didn’t have the energy to do everything that I normally do.  So, my solution that year was to say ‘no’ to a few things.  That was the year that I quit sending out Christmas cards.

What I discovered was that life went on.  My kids didn’t care if I sent out Christmas cards and they were happier if I wasn’t overly stressed.

Since then, I have definitely pared back even more.  I practice saying ‘no’ to those things that don’t really mean that much to me to begin with and will only add stress to my life if I do them.

Even with all of my practice of saying ‘no’, I still find it hard to do.  There’s a part of me that still feels like I’m letting others down if I don’t do everything.  That whole bit about keeping up with your neighbors creeps in this time of year.  I don’t want to be a negative person.  I don’t want to turn people down.

On the other hand, I don’t want to live a crazy, busy life either.  I want to sit and enjoy my friends and family.  I want to enjoy the holiday and my son’s concerts. I want to make it through January 2 and not be filled with anxiety all of the time.

So, what I’m finding is that saying ‘yes’ and saying ‘no’ to the different events, activities and fun of the holidays is all about balance.  Maybe I say ‘yes’ to some things this year that I haven’t in the past.  If I do that, then I’ll probably say ‘no’ to some things that I have done in the past few years.  It’s about finding the right balance of holiday fun without having the holiday crazy.

Practice with me.  Look in the mirror and say ‘no, not this year’.  How does that feel to you?  Did you mind and body just say thank you for not over scheduling again?  Remember, when it feels right, ‘yes’ is a great way to go as well.  Just find your balance.

What does your holiday balance look like?  Do you struggle with saying ‘no’ to activities?  What tips do you have for surviving this season?  Leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear what works for you.

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