By Jackie White
It’s Christmas, so don’t forget you need to: take Christmas photos, make Christmas cookies, go Christmas shopping, wrap the gifts, buy Christmas cards, purchase postage ,write out cards and mail, decorate the house, get the tree, decorate the tree, make holiday dinners, clean the house, host holiday dinners, attend Christmas events, prepare for St Nick’s day, participate in the Elf on the Shelf, arrange for Secret Santa happenings, watch Christmas movies, get teacher gifts, drive through the lights, go Christmas caroling, volunteer, go to church, make handmade gifts…
It’s All Too Much!
Last Christmas my friend told me she needed to mitigate the stress that Christmas becomes. She and I pledged we would be done shopping by December 1. I took the competition seriously and finished shopping and wrapping by the first week of December. I had several weeks left to complete all the other Christmas tasks remaining, but dragged them out so “I had something Christmasy to do during the season” What was I thinking? My friend continued to complete all other tasks but was frantically shopping up until the holiday. Neither one of the scenarios were ideal, but the challenge opened my eyes to the real sickness we both suffered from PPC Syndrome: Picture Perfect Christmas Syndrome. Listen, my friend, we don’t need to put ourselves through this!
What happens is many of us moms start early with Christmas shopping, planning, decorating and trying to bring to life a Picture Perfect Christmas! Why do we do this to ourselves? We think if we start early and stash away the gifts throughout the year we think this year will be on top of Christmas! What then happens is we don’t just stop there as we should, we think we can add even more to the holidays and it will be so much better. We then add on handmade Christmas cards, Pinteresty decorations, crafts and the list goes on! That’s where we get into trouble!
Believe it or not, more presents, more decorations, more activities do not translate into a better Christmas. I am guilty of thinking that if I just do more, especially as my children get older, than Christmas will continue to stay magical. I also have previously subscribed to the notion that if my holiday décor is Pinterest worthy than that equals a grade “A” Christmas.
The Stress is Real
Let’s peel back the onion on Christmas and really take a look at the frantic pace of the holiday. The season of joy becomes a massive list of things to do. Even the fun stuff like baking Christmas cookies or attending a holiday party becomes a list to check off. We make it into a race for the finish line rather than enjoying the specialness of the season. The tasks of the season are real and many times falls heavily on the mom. It starts early, what will be the perfect gift for my child this year? In October you are thinking about Christmas when Halloween hasn’t even happened yet?
When we don’t take time to slow down, the stress of it all can affect you physically. The increase in things to do and the desire to want everything to be perfect can put you, and specifically, your prefrontal cortex into overdrive. The brain must keep track of the multiple tasks that need to be done in a relatively short period of time. That feeling of being “burned out” is common. The pressure can even affect memory, halt production of new brain cells and cause existing brain cells to die. We also become more susceptible to falling ill because we are running ourselves ragged. This is serious, Girl!
The first step is recognizing we have a problem with overdoing Christmas. “Hello, I am Jackie and I am a Christmas Over-doer”. Secondly, we need a mind shift on what constitutes a happy Christmas. Ok, so I admit, decorating 7 trees in the house will not make Christmas better. It will just give me more work to do. One tree is perfect – make it sparkly and hang the family ornaments on it. Thirdly, we have to put a reasonable plan in place. Here are five ways we can do that:
1) Take care of yourself: exercise, eat right, drink water, get enough sleep
2) Prioritize what really is important to having a good holiday (then cut the rest of it out)
3) Start early and end early on things that don’t have a hard and fast date
4) Take time daily to check in with yourself to keep on track and avoid craziness
5) Get others on board with your new trimmed down plan. Recruit help with tasks!
I encourage you to make a plan and throw away the idea of a “perfect Christmas”. Christmas is so special just as it is. You just have to realize that it doesn’t need 10,000 bells and whistles to make it better. The fact is you deserve to have an enjoyable holiday too. Give yourself a gift and take time to slow down and take in the joy of the holiday season this year.
Wishing you a very merry un-perfectly wonderful Christmas holiday!
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.