Take Steps Now to Reduce Holiday Stress

Reduce Holiday StressWhen you think of the holidays, what comes to mind first? Twinkling lights? The merry faces of children? Or… is it stress? Does planning for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the December holidays stress you out?

In a recent article published by allonehealth.com, “Holiday stress statistics show that up to 69 percent of people are stressed by the feeling of having a ‘lack of time,’ 69 percent are stressed by perceiving a ‘lack of money,’ and 51 percent are stressed out about the ‘pressure to give or get gifts.’”

I think most of us will agree that it hasn’t always been this way. Especially for the older ones among us, the holidays were pretty simple. Holiday programs at school and church, putting up the Christmas tree together with ornaments the included handmade items by the children, perhaps Christmas caroling and holiday meals with family at home or at other relatives’ homes.

Now there is additional pressure to do indoor and outdoor decorating that can be competitive with relatives or neighbors. The list of people with whom to exchange gifts seems to grow. The advertising wherever we look starts SO early. In the internet age, the pressure to shop online on Black Friday has infringed on our Thanksgiving Day. The next day is Small Business Saturday and the following Monday is Cyber Monday for online sales.

Now is the time to decide, individually and with family or others who are directly involved, what kind of December you want this year. It doesn’t have to be an extensive process. It is really a priority-setting exercise that will set the parameters and tone for decisions about activities you choose.

Here are a few simple questions to think about and discuss with the others involved:

  • Looking back at previous holiday seasons, what things were the most enjoyable and meaningful? What made them that way?
  • What things caused the most stress and perhaps conflict? Was the stress primarily on one person or was it experienced by others?
  • Are there things any of you would like to include in your holiday celebrations that haven’t been part of them recently, or ever?
  • Based on the above, what key things (you may want to set a number) do you want to include that will be enjoyable and fulfilling for you and for others?
  • Are there activities that you want to continue but simplify? How?
  • What self-care strategies can you insert into the holiday season that will decrease stress for you? How about for others?

If there are differences of opinion about any of the above, working out a set of priorities and plans together can in itself reduce stress.

Taking time to do this between now and the beginning of December can have a huge positive impact. Perhaps it is something you can do during the weekend after Thanksgiving. Make it festive – snacks and beverages, candles, etc. This can become a tradition that you look forward to and treasure, not only for the outcome but the cooperative process.

Click below for a simple worksheet that includes the above questions. You can download and print it for this year and repeat next year.

WORKSHEET for Reducing Holiday Stress and Increasing Enjoyment

If this results in some fairly major changes in your holidays, be sure to communicate them in a positive way to anyone affected by your decisions. And in January, have another festive debrief of how this went for everyone. Happy holiday planning and destressing!!

For Thanksgiving: Free Online Resources to Entertain the Whole Family

Thanksgiving Resource PostThanksgiving and a long weekend can be a challenge in terms of keeping the family occupied while they are out of school and off work. It can also be a challenge when one or more of the parents needs to make the Thanksgiving meal, and they need to find quiet activities that children of all ages can do with a minimum amount of supervision and a maximum amount of interest to keep boredom at bay. And, of course, if there are guests in the house, too.

Fortunately, there are a number of online resources packed full of clever ideas the whole family can enjoy together. Here are several suggestions.

1. DLTK Growing Together    http://www.dltk-holidays.com/thanksgiving/

This useful site from Canada offers:
• Thanksgiving coloring pages
• Thanksgiving crafts
• Thanksgiving games and puzzles
• Thanksgiving poems and songs
• Thanksgiving printables
• Thanksgiving recipes
• Thanksgiving worksheets

This site is perfect for K through 8 and for adults who want to spend quality time with the kids for at least part of the holiday weekend. Load up the printer and ink and print out a range of activities, puzzles and more.

2. Education.com

This site has a nice selection of printables for all ages and of all types. There are puzzles, games, and history pages that help teach about the first Thanksgiving and the Puritan settlers to the New World.
https://www.education.com/worksheets/thanksgiving/

Extend the use of the pages by having your younger ones color them in. Be sure to have snub-nosed scissors and glue for the arts and crafts worksheets.

3. Scholastic

Scholastic has both free and paid printables through their membership, and resources for K through 8. Learn about colonial America, and enjoy coloring pages, games and worksheets. See the Thanksgiving collection here:
https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/collections/teaching-content/thanksgiving/

and the printables page. https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/thanksgiving-printables/

4. TheHomeSchoolMom

This site has a wealth of activities and links to a range of educational material from Pre-K to 12, plus teachers’ resources. Use the checkboxes at the top of the page to sort what you are looking for. This site is sure to give your whole family hours of educational fun. https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/homeschool-lesson-plans/thanksgiving/

5. SignUp Genius

This website helps groups get organized by having them sign up for different activities. It has a nice list of 20 Thanksgiving games to play. https://www.signupgenius.com/home/thanksgivinggames.cfm

There’s also a sign-up project to help plan your Thanksgiving feast which you might find handy, and which the kids can help you with if they are old enough. https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f044daead2aabfd0-dinner

6. Iheartnaptime.net

This site has made a list of 50 top printables the family will love. You’re sure to find hours of activities and tons of inspiration. https://www.iheartnaptime.net/50-best-thanksgiving-printables/

7. Apartment Therapy

This site offers 15 activities the whole family can get involved with in order to make your Thanksgiving special.
https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/thanksgiving-15-ideas-for-making-it-fun-and-meaningful-for-the-whole-family-161544

8. Play Party Plan
This site offers 30 Thanksgiving-themed party games the whole family will love.
https://www.playpartyplan.com/30-great-thanksgiving-party-games/

9. 247 Games

This fun site offers holiday versions of popular card and board games, such as Thanksgiving solitaire, mahjong, Sudoku and more.

http://www.thanksgivingblackjack.com/
http://www.thanksgivingmahjong.com/
http://www.thanksgivingsolitaire.com/
http://www.thanksgivingsudoku.com/
http://www.thanksgivingbackgammon.com/
Learn all new games or have fun with old favorites. Organize tournaments for each game to see who is the winner of each.

10. The Spruce Crafts

This site offers a range of fun Thanksgiving-themed puzzles.
https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/thanksgiving-puzzles-2809152

With all these free ideas, no one needs to be bored during the holidays.

Simple Fall and Thanksgiving Decorating Ideas

thanksgiving decorI love fall decorating in my home. It adds warmth and coziness before the rush of Christmas or other holiday decorating. It can be simple and inexpensive, and other family members can get involved. Here are several ideas to try or to inspire you to think of additional things you can do right now.

1. Outdoor Display
Decorate the front yard with harvest-type items like a hay bale, pumpkins, gourds, etc. You can arrange seasonal items on a bench, chair or swing, and use baskets, burlap bags, or other containers.

A Happy Thanksgiving sign can be easily created out of wood, or create a flag out of felt. For a little color, plant a few mums, either in the ground or in pots and planters around the outside of the house, or along the pathway or drive leading up to it. You can get a lot of decorating ideas at your local nursery.

2. Door Wreath
Nothing says the holidays quite like a door wreath. You can purchase grapevine wreaths in many sizes at a craft store very inexpensively. Then hot glue or wire pine cones, chestnuts, acorns, small gourds and more onto the wreath. You could also use a foam base. To make it more reusable year after year, Silk leaves and flowers can be used.

3. Inside the House
Add fall colors in simple ways like using autumn-colored throw pillows or blankets on your couch. Scented candles in fall fragrances or a spicy, scented air freshener add those great fall scents to your whole house.

4. Mantelpiece Display
The mantel over your fireplace is the perfect place to decorate for Thanksgiving. For a simple display, arrange some pumpkins or decorative gourds and/or Indian corn on the mantelpiece, along with a few candles. Orange, gold or brown glass vases by themselves or filled with live or silk flowers and foliage are also a nice touch. Hang a fall garland or wreath above the mantelpiece, similar to the one on your front door.

5. Create a Centerpiece
An attractive centerpiece can set the tone of any holiday table or buffet table. If you have a buffet or side table, add decorations there too. Here are some suggestions.

Fall Flower Arrangement
You can choose fresh flowers or plants – particularly in yellow, orange, brown or bronze colors – and add greenery or fall grasses to the fresh flowers. Alternately, you can make an arrangement that you can use year after year from silk flowers and foliage in a vase, basket or cornucopia. Add a complementary bow and you are all set.

Pumpkins, Gourds, and Indian Corn
You can make a beautiful fall arrangement by setting out some miniature pumpkins and ears of Indian corn on your table or sideboard. Look for yellow, red, multicolored and purple varieties of corn for an authentic Thanksgiving feel. Scatter them across your dining table or arrange them in a bowl for a nice centerpiece. And of course, there is nothing more gorgeous than a range of gourds. Keep them in a cool place and they can last for ages.

Candles and Seasonal Items
Candles always add a warm feel to a room. Pair them with displays of acorns, chestnuts and mini pumpkins.

Decorate or Paint Pumpkins
Painting pumpkins with a design can be great fun and result in some unique decorations. Acrylic craft paints, found in all craft stores and craft sections of other stores work well. Or you can choose or make stencils and spray paint them. Here’s some more information about painting pumpkins. Ehow – Painting Pumpkins

Hopefully, these ideas have inspired you to do some fall/Thanksgiving decorating.

If you are interested in additional fall decor items, go to this Amazon link to shop or just to get more ideas:  Fall Decor Items

Enjoy this season before the December holidays begin! It’s a lovely time of year.

What is Holding You Back From Retiring When You Feel Ready?

blocks

Suppose you are eligible to retire from your job – you are eligible for Social Security payments and have worked enough years to qualify for a good pension (if there is one with your employment). Financially, you could do it. And yet you don’t. Can you identify what is holding you back?

I recently had a conversation with someone in that precise situation. As we talked, she was able to identify several things that were keeping her from doing what she was in some ways quite ready to do – retire.

Blocks to Making the Move to Retirement

One factor was concern that she wouldn’t be contributing to the betterment of society anymore. Her career had focused on things that made a difference and she wanted to continue to do that in the coming years. Would she settle into a lifestyle that was narrower and not connected to the needs and issues?

A somewhat connected thought was that despite all she has done in a 40-year career, she hadn’t done enough in that area of interest. Should she stay and do more?

Then there was a practical thing: with workdays of 8 or more hours and a commute of an hour each way, all her focus had been on that job. She didn’t quite know how to shift focus and find new outlets for her commitment and energy.

The prospect of losing the relationships related to the job was another pull to continue working. Retirement inevitably changes or severs relationships with people with whom we have worked. In this case, they have been significant and in fact the majority of her personal relationships.

A final item was facing the overwhelming job of leaving records and the office in condition for someone to easily step in and do the work. There seems to be no time in the current pace of the job to get this done. Ultimately it became another reason to postpone retirement.

Can you relate to any of these as reasons you are putting off retirement, what is holding you back? Can you identify others?

As we talked, we identified some steps to take. Perhaps these could help you take some steps toward the goal of retirement on terms that are satisfying to you.

Steps to Removing Blocks

First, take inventory of the things you have accomplished and been involved in during your years of active employment. Write them down, think about the impacts and celebrate them. It is easy to lose track of all we have done after a long career and valuable to look back at them.

Second, look again at this list and consider what possibilities for post-retirement activity come to mind. How could your career be a launching pad for the next phase of your contribution? Perhaps there is something that you enjoyed and excelled at 20 years ago. What related things could you do? Could you take something to another level through volunteer work or even part time work in some organization? Do some creative brainstorming of ideas.

Third, take concrete steps to explore new opportunities. If it is difficult to fit into your current schedule, explore ways to carve out time to totally focus on the things you want to check out. It could mean using a day a week of your vacation time for a few weeks, or a day every other week, or even one full day to get started. Decide ahead of time what you will do with this time that will provide information you need about future possibilities.

Fourth, as you are looking at these options, look for people to build relationships with in these new organizations or groups. Even if you don’t ultimately go in some of the directions you are checking out, you may find people to connect with in various ways.

Fifth, create a plan for leaving your files, records and workplace in a condition that you will be proud of. This can apply to anything you consider unfinished in your current position. List the major components and then make a general timeline. Start chipping away by making a list of tasks divided by an estimated time each will take: 10 minutes, 15 minutes, an hour, etc. Start doing them as you have snippets and blocks of time on a weekly basis. Post that list where you see it continually and will be reminded that you can indeed achieve your overall goal a bit at a time.

Here’s a free worksheet based on the steps above. You will be able to download and print it directly from this link.  WORKSHEET for Clearing Out Blocks