Beating Holiday Stress: Part 3

audre lordeCreate a Self-Care Plan

Okay, you’re starting to feel better about the holidays. You’ve assessed your button pushers and added some tools to your stress-busting toolbelt. If you’re anything like me, the second you get into holiday season, all of that goes out the window and you’re back in survivor mode: frazzled, hunting for last-minute gifts and beating back other target shoppers with your plastic basket. Don’t fall back into the holiday-stress vortex. This year, you and I are going to have a plan. And we’re going to stick to it.

Assess your button pushers. If you missed this post, read up here. Knowing what causes you stress this season will help you figure out how to beat that stress. Take an honest look at which people, places, pets and times cause you the most stress. Decide not to let them drive you nuts this year.

Match your stressors up with your tools. Part 2 of this series was all about creating your own tool belt. What can you do to prevent a meltdown at dinner? How can you ensure a good time (for yourself and others) around the fire this year? For each of your button-pushers, figure out the best tool. Make a list (no need to check it twice).

Reconnect with the Holiday Spirit. What do the holidays mean to you? Write the reason down somewhere you’ll see it every day. Ask yourself how you can express that spirit every day or at least when you need a little yourself. If the season is about giving, for example, plug someone else’s parking meter or buy their groceries.

Write it out. As you create your plan, make sure you write it down. Even if you didn’t look at it again this season, you’d have a much better chance of remembering it. Write down what you plan to do and when you plan to do it. Write down how you’ll reward yourself (or punish yourself, if you’re into that).

Schedule it! Writing down your plan of action is a great start. But for most of us, that’s not enough. Does your plan include taking yoga classes? Sign up for them now and put them in your calendar. Schedule time for yourself. By putting those things in your calendar (and committing to them), you’ll be way less likely to scrap your plan and give up the second eggnog cravings kick in. For extra credit, sign up for the class with a friend.

Be kind to yourself. Ultimately, you may not live up to your plan. Remember that the purpose of this self-care plan is to make your life better, not harder. So if you do miss that yoga class, dust yourself off, eat another cookie and remind yourself “tomorrow is another day.” After all, if you can’t forgive yourself at Christmas, when can you?

Just not too kind. Most of my clients are the over-achiever type. But if you’re more of a pushover and have no problem forgiving yourself, it’s time for some tough love. Remember this: if you don’t take care of yourself this year, you’re setting yourself (and you’re loved ones) up for a potentially super-stressful month. Make your rewards (for living up to your plan) a little bigger if it’ll help, but do the work first.

This post is part three of a five part series called “Beating Holiday Stress.” In the holiday spirit of giving, Jeff is offering a free class on beating holiday stress at called An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays. The class starts Dec. 3, 2012.