4 Simple Tips to Make the Holidays Stress-FREE Instead of Stress-FULL

4 Simple Tips to Make the Holidays Stress-FREE Instead of Stress-FULL

Isn’t it the goal every year to have a stress free holiday? Seriously, every year I tell myself, “This is the year. I am going to keep things simple.” Then, before I know it, I’m so overbooked that I’ve run out of space in my calendar, my kids are on their daily treasure hunt looking for all the hidden presents, and the smoke detector is beeping because I forgot about those dang cookies in the oven! I’ve run myself into the ground trying to make the season special for everyone else.

But, I also want the holidays to be filled with peace, wonder, and awe. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and I want to slow down and enjoy the magic too. So, how do we accomplish both? How do we meet our commitments well without getting completely overwhelmed and stressed out? I got you, girl!

#1. Write It All Down

My tip is write every single thing down. Make a list of all the things you hope to do during this season. Then, transfer everything to your calendar. There are so many things that we want to accomplish during the holidays. There are outside obligations and commitments, as well as family activities and traditions. Make sure there is space in your schedule to get every thing accomplished.

Schedule everything – the big and small things. For example, every year we make homemade gingerbread houses and cookies, and we have a little decorating party with the kids. The kitchen becomes filled with the smell of cinnamon and ginger, while our table transforms into a construction zone with candy canes, gumdrops, and frosting as building materials.

Our gingerbread house making party is my kids’ favorite tradition. I need to make sure I have it scheduled. Otherwise before I know it, it’s the week of Christmas, and I will be frantically running through the grocery store, likely sweating, trying to find all the things. And I will probably come up short. That does not sound like a good time to me.

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#2. Do What Brings You Joy

Speaking of that list you made. You have permission to cross of things that do not bring you joy. If the last couple of years taught us anything, it is that life is too short to spend time doing things that rob you of your joy. And trying to do too much will definitely steal the simple peace we all crave this season.

I know I do not have the capacity to do a daily advent activity with my children. As a homeschooling pastor’s wife, this feels almost sacrilegious! But I know it is not. We experience the glory and birth of our Savior in other ways that leave us feeling joyful instead of it feeling cumbersome. Sometimes we need to say no to things, even if those things are good.

Furthermore, we won’t be able to attend every single event we are invited to. But, what we do choose to do, we will do it wholeheartedly. So my friend, it is okay to do less when that means you can do it well. If you’re interested in reading more about how to edit your to do list, you can read about that here.

#3. Make Peace with Clutter

Oh the clutter! There is, literally, stuff everywhere! This is a big one for me. I can so easily become anxious and overstimulated when my environment is messy. It feels like the walls are closing in on me.

But let’s face facts. There’s going to be extra things in our environments during the holidays. There are decorations, crafts, baking, and so on. We need to keep our expectations for a perfectly clean house in check. I do my best to carefully consider how many decorations I put out. I also make sure there are areas in a room that my eyes can wander to and rest, like having a corner in the living room free from decorations.

Additionally, because my kids are in the “toy years,” I put in a little extra effort and make sure all the toys are put away at the end of the day.

#4. Have a Wrapping Party

This is my favorite stress free holiday tip! Wrapping presents feels like a chore all too often. Instead of thinking of it as yet another thing to check off the list, make it a party.

After the kids are in bed, open up a great bottle of wine. Plate up a scrumptious snack (I know you’ve got some great holiday treats!), then put on a cheesy, feel good Hallmark movie. Boom! Your chore is now a party.

I usually do this twice during the holidays. Once to wrap all the friends and family’s gifts that go under the tree. Then again on Christmas Eve because, you know, *wink*.

There you have it! My stress free holiday tips that you can actually accomplish this year. What do you do to manage your expectations during the holidays? Tell me about it in the comments below. If you enjoyed these tips, please share this with your friends and join my email list for extra goodies.

What I’ve Learned Using Social Media App Timers

What I’ve Learned Using Social Media App Timers

Intentionally Well: Striving for Present Intentionality Every Day

I have been using social media app timers on my phone for about four months. And let me tell you, I have learned some things about myself. Let me first start off admitting that everything that was 2020 had a negative impact on my relationship with my phone. I will be transparent and tell you that scrolling and zoning out on social media became a coping mechanism for all the hard things. This became my escape because I had cultivated my social media to be an uplifting space. In theory, this was a good thing. We all needed some sort of way to deal with the stress we were all experiencing. The problem was when I was ready to scale my consumption back, I struggled.

When Scrolling Became a Problem

I can’t say there was a singular moment when I realized I was relying too much on my phone. It was a slow build up. But one day I had this awareness that I was missing it. My real life, my days, were passing me by. Honestly, friend, I think we all have those realizations from time to time. It is so easy to become engrossed in what is happening on our phone, and we get these little gut checks that tell us we need to scale back. I had the gut check, but I had a really difficult time breaking the muscle memory habits I formed. It was hard for my brain to just be. I felt all squirmy when I tried to let my mind be still and quiet. I realized my brain was constantly craving some sort of stimulation from my phone. That was when I realized my phone was a problem. Was I actually addicted to my phone? The definition of addiction is as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain. It is both a complex brain disorder and a mental illness. Here is an article published by CNN about phone addiction.

Implementing Social Media App Timers

No. Based off the clinical definition of addiction, I was not addicted to my phone. However, I wanted to break the habits I had formed around it. Enter app timers! Did you know this was a feature on your iPhone? I honestly didn’t until I started researching them. However, there they are. To find the app timers on your iPhone go to Settings>Screen Time>App Limits>Add Limit. From there, you can choose which apps you would like to limit your time on, for how long, and what days you’d like to have the limits. I decided to use these timers on my social media and news apps. I am sure other phone companies have this feature, so feel free to let google tell you how to access them if you do not have an iPhone.

What I learned

Every day I get the pop ups saying I reached my limit. And let me tell you, there are still days where I override my app timers. I do this for different reasons. Sometimes, especially with Instagram, my time is spent promoting this space or engaging with my community there. I don’t feel like that needs to be lumped together with the unhealthy scrolling habit I am trying to break. Sometimes I override the limit at the end of the day when I just want a little extra time to laugh at funny Tik Toks. However, many days I do stick to my goals. Regardless if I override the app timers or not, having them in place brings so much more awareness to my phone consumption. Do I need to check the news 4 times a day? No, I don’t, and I am better for it. Is it easier for me to leave my phone in another room? Yes, it is. That is something I am really proud of because that used to be a struggle. I am still a work in progress, but I am making progress. And that is something to celebrate.

What do you think? Do you have a healthy relationship with your phone? Let’s chat about it in the comments below. As always, if you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends.