Turkey, family, friends and more

This is my absolute favorite time of the year. I am a huge fan of the fall, the changing seasons, and the holiday celebrations. This time of year is all about family, friends and spending time with the ones you love. For me, it's a time of joy and celebration. I love the process of decorating for the holidays, watching the leaves fall off the trees and the clothes that come out of storage for the cold months.

The thing about this time of year though is that it can become overwhelming quickly. Parties, celebrations, gifts, and decorating. Hosting events, getting together with people, and trying to meet the end of year deadlines can be overwhelming. The pressure to make things picture-perfect is real.

The holidays are what you make of them. They are about appreciating the moment. They are about being with the people you love. They are about celebrating. As a Christian, I spend the Christmas season celebrating the birth of Jesus. I teach my children about our faith and encourage them to feel the joy of the season. We also have an elf-on-the-shelf. She is a very active visitor at our home from Thanksgiving night until Christmas morning.

We participate in Thanksgiving and Christmas events with friends, family and at work. It's a busy season and time-consuming. I find that planning ahead is important to keep a balance between life and the holiday season. Making time to focus on the things that matter and not get caught up in the retail craziness, Pinterest perfect holidays, and more makes a huge difference for me.

Having the time to be with my family is so important. I have made choices in my professional life to accommodate this and to be more flexible for my family. The changes took time but they are worth it at this time of year. I can be present for my family and engaged at the moment.

For some people, the holidays are stressful, lonely, and overly emotional. There are pressures to be joyful, engaged and to achieve someone else's idea of the perfect holiday season. I know at times in years past, I have allowed myself to fall into this trap. And, that is what it is - a trap. There are some things you can do to reduce these feelings during the holiday season.

  1. Plan ahead - prepare for events and plan for the things that cause you stress. This may mean practicing for uncomfortable conversations or thinking through the questions that worry you. If you know you will need to provide food or gifts, determine what you will do early and prepare ahead of time when you can.

  2. Talk to your family about your plans and figure out what the most important things are. Do the truly important stuff and let go of the small stuff.

  3. Remember the goal of the season. Focus on the things that make you happy in the season, and say no to the things that cause stress or overwhelm.

  4. Money - set a budget and stick to it. This will reduce money concerns.

  5. Holidays mean spending time with family. This can be a cause of stress and arguments over the holidays. Remember that the holidays pass and pick your battles.

  6. Feeling as if you haven't achieved your goals this year. It's the first week of November, there are nearly 60 days left until the end of the year. Rather than focusing on failures, focus on what you have achieved. Set aside time NOW to plan for next year and then start working towards it.

I'm so excited about the topics over the next two months. We will be focusing on keeping the holidays simple and appreciating the moments.

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Christy Zuehl

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