Down to the wire: 3 steps to Christmas sanity

Holiday parties, last minute errands, speeding up at work to cram all in before year’s end:  these are the hallmarks of the week before Christmas.  I don’t know about you, but I find it much easier to keep Christmas slow on December 1 than on December 15.  This week is when it all comes down to the wire.  We shift into warp speed with the crazed determination to get it all done, so we can relax next week.

Cats: when you need a nudge to live in the moment

But I’ll let you in on a secret:  the more we wind ourselves up, the longer it takes to wind down.  It’s what we Americans do:  we push ourselves to work longer, save up more, then spend it all on a blowout vacation to somewhere we can sit around for a whole week and do absolutely nothing.  The trouble is, when we get there, relaxing feels foreign to us.  And just when we start to get used to slowing down, it’s time to go back to work. When we get back, the memory of our vacation makes it harder to submit once again to the breakneck pace of daily life. Christmas is no different for most of us.

So what about if this year, rather than speeding-up-so-we-can-slow-down, we head off this madness right now? Here are 3 steps to help:

1. When you notice your mind racing and making lists, stop. Take ten slow breaths in a row, counting all the way to five as you inhale, taking another 5 to exhale. This is almost a cliché at this point, but believe me when I tell you, there’s a reason it’s become one.  Deep breaths actually send signals to your brain that trigger an “everything is okay now” response in your body.  This gives you an opportunity to slow down and take stock.

2. Ask yourself, is this a situation where my need for speed is legitimate, i.e. am I being pursued by bears? As the original fast American would be the first to tell you, there are some things worth breaking a sweat for:

Paul Revere galloping on horseback

Paul Revere galloping, 1775

But, if you find that you’re rushing to make an appearance at two holiday parties in the same night, or to pick up pink furry slippers for your sister-in-law at the mall, you may want to do a spot-check on your priorities. Your friends and loved ones will understand if you can’t make it to every party. And your sister-in-law may turn out to hate the color pink, but really want your recipe for snickerdoodles instead.

3.Take a look at your to-do list.  Cross 2 things off. Go on, do it.  Then, see if anyone notices that you didn’t do them this year. It’s a hard lesson to swallow for those of us who pay attention to detail, or have a perfectionist streak. But if you’re serious about slowing down your Christmas, you have to prioritize.  Frankly, some errands are just more important than others.  (Having planned a wedding not too long ago, there are a million details that couples can exhaust themselves getting right.  But when we decided not to send save-the-date postcards, or make a seating chart, no one even noticed.)

Try not to skip any steps, or it won’t work.  Let me know how it goes, and I’ll let you know how I do.  Now that you’ve done the hardest part, go forth and create Christmas memories!

9 thoughts on “Down to the wire: 3 steps to Christmas sanity

  1. I just saw a neat idea on a friend’s Facebook status: She and her husband only do stockings for each other for Christmas, no other big presents. I’m assuming they do presents for the kids, but what a great way to cut back without completely cutting out gifts all together.

  2. Pingback: Resolution: Slow Christmas meet Slow Life « Slow Christmas

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