My family calls me the Grinch. They think I hate Christmas. Truth be told, I am not a huge fan of the timeframe between Nov 23-Jan 2nd. Why? Am I just a cranky old lady who wants everyone to get off her lawn? Well partially yes, BUT NO! The reason I act so moody is because I get completely overwhelmed, or at least I used to.

Picture this, Dec 16, 2018… My husband says, “so have you sent out the Christmas cards yet?” My head spins around exorcist style, my eye starts twitching and my voice raises up an octave. “THERE WILL BE NO CHRISTMAS CARDS THIS YEAR! I HAVE DECLARED IT. IF YOU WANT CHRISTMAS CARDS SENT, DO IT YOURSELF!”  

I had been “doing Christmas” for 16 years mostly by myself. I bought all the gifts, wrapped them, stuffed the stockings, did all the cooking, worked fulltime, and had year-end deadlines, I drove my children to activities, went to countless kid concerts, holiday parties, church crap, baked… you get the picture. The straw that broke my back, Christmas cards. I was sick of feeling overwhelmed. I did not enjoy the holidays because I was too busy to enjoy any of it. My thoughts every year compounded and got more negative, and resentful that I was doing all the things.

What is Overwhelm?

My old friends at Merriam-Webster define overwhelm as:

  1. to affect (someone) very strongly
  2. to cause (someone) to have too many things to deal with
  3. to defeat (someone or something) completely


Check, check and check! When you are overwhelmed, you feel out of control. You get cranky, angry, moody. You feel as though you are doing all the things, but not doing anything well. But I have learned the secret to managing overwhelm during the holidays. You must manage your mind and your expectations.


STEP 1: Identify the source

First, you need to take the time to pause and reset. Identifying what “all the things” are that are driving you batshit crazy is crucial to solving your problems. Make a list of the tasks that need to be done. Just write, don’t overthink this. Next, lets go deeper. Is it really all these things that are causing you strife, or is it something more?

For me, the Christmas cards were just a symptom of a deeper issue. I realized I was really upset because I felt like I wasn’t “doing it right”, like there is some precise way to do Christmas. I realized this was some perfectionist bullshit I made up in my own brain. I didn’t get a prize for sending out cards. No mom of the year, barely a thank you. Which leads me to step 2…

STEP 2: Setting boundaries- just say no!

Boundaries are our friend in managing overwhelm. I had to look at my ridiculous list and just say no. For me, Christmas cards were first to go. Next, baking fucking cookies. Costco bakes delicious treats and cost me no more than if I went and bought all the shit and made them myself. Less stress, no mess!

Women have a tough time saying no, but it is so important to learn how to take care of our own mental health needs. We will examine the topic of boundaries in a future blog post. For now, look at your list and start chopping the stupid stuff off it.

STEP 3: Ask for help- No really, Ask. For. HELP!

911, what is your emergency? I need someone to step up and take something off my plate. But first, I must give up control and allow someone to help. That is right folks, most of the time it is us hanging on for dear life to all the things thinking nobody else can do it as well as we can.  While this is mostly true (just kidding), we must start letting go and letting other people do things.

Asking our family, friends, and co-worker to pick up the slack is vital. If they too are too busy to help, then consider hiring help if you can afford too. In today’s world of technology, we can buy, sell, whatever and whenever everything online.

And guess what? I have a secret. People like to help. It makes them feel good to help. Grandparents LOVE to help with grandkids. Church ladies love to bake cookies. Kids even love to help; we just must let go of the expectation that everything has to be done our way for it to be right.

Wrapping it all up – pun intended!

If you want to really enjoy your holiday than you must let stuff, go. Make a firm decision to keep life simple, give up the extra stuff that just causes you stress. Ask for help. Stop trying to control, but instead manage each situation, each thought about each situation, until your to do list is complete.

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