Overwhelmed this Holiday Season?

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Holiday to-do list

Holiday to-do list

Overwhelmed this Holiday Season?

For some people, these words bring a smile and joy to their hearts.  For others…dread.  I fall somewhere in the middle.  I love the beauty of a snow-covered yard, the cheeriness of a twinkling Christmas tree.  But the hustle and bustle, the stress of finding that perfect gift, knowing you’ll have to put up with long lines at the store and annual argument over whether Merry Christmas” is acceptable to say; these are NOT a few of my favorite things.
When I get overwhelmed, I try to step back and find ways to refocus on the simple things. Here are some of my favorite ways to refocus during this crazy time of the year.

Spend time with family:  

You don’t need to go big to make memories.  One of my favorite Christmas memories was driving around after the Christmas Eve service looking at lights with my family.  All we needed was a car and 20 minutes.  
If you don’t have family nearby, maybe you can adopt” a grandparent.  There are many people at nursing homes who don’t have family nearby.  Get to know one of them.
They’ve lived a long life and would love to share their wisdom and stories with someone with a willing ear.  
Sometimes, you don’t have to look that far to find someone.  Maybe it’s the neighbor down the street. You wave to them as you are driving, but have you ever stopped to talk? Getting to know your neighbors is a wonderful way to build connections and community.

Give: 

There are so many different ways to give.  If you have the gift of time you can spend the day volunteering at a shelter or other non-profit.  Perhaps your calendar is already overscheduled, but you still want to give.  Many churches or non-profits have giving trees at Christmas.  Our local YMCA has one.  Pick up a tag and add that special child to your shopping list.  
You can also always give to the local food bank; many grocery stores even have prepackaged bags you can just add to your order.    

Listen:

This is such a rushed season that slowing down and taking the time to be present and listen to that friend will mean more than they can tell you.  Call or sit down with your parents or grandparents.  Ask how they are doing and really listen to them.  Or again, look to your neighbor or a nursing home.  There are plenty of amazing people with incredible stories to tell, they just need to find a listening ear.  

Spend time with yourself:

Trust me, this is not selfish.  Make sure your own cup is filled so you can help fill others’ cups.  Do what works for you; hit the gym, go hiking, read a book, meditate.  When your cup is filled you can be the light to others.  
I hope that putting a few of these ideas into practice will bring you more joy and peace this holiday season.  Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy Kwanza!

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