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Managing Holiday Overload

I'm a marital and family therapist by day, and wife and mother by night. I decided to write this blog as a way to get my thoughts out and reflect on how my work and life tie together.

Given that Christmas decorations have been on display in retail stores since October, and Thanksgiving is a blur in between trick-or-treating and Black Friday, its no wonder that by the time December rolls around, it feels like its been the holiday season forever.

Around this time, schedules get hectic, finances get tight and families can get, well, a little cranky. In an effort to spend time celebrating with friends and family, its easy to overcommit and become exhausted. Attending yet another holiday party becomes a burden. Rather than talking yourself into stopping by for "just an hour," and rushing out as soon as feel you can politely do so, why not take a different approach?

Before the rush of events begins, decide how much time you are able to, and want to spend bouncing from place to place. This might mean choosing only one commitment per day, or week, or weekend. It requires the strength to say "no," without feeling guilty. Think of it this way, would you rather attend every single even you're invited to, dragging exhausted, whiny children (and spouses) behind, or return home from an enjoyable evening looking forward to a lighter, more manageable tomorrow?

Its important to remember that the point of the season is not to collect the most tally marks on how many paties you've gone to, but to enjoy the warmth of the holidays with those that matter most to you. Declining an invitation does not mean you're Grinch-like and bitter; it means you enjoy going places more when you don't feel rushed to make it to the next, and next, and next event. This is extremely important to remember when dealing with kids, who do not want to put on another sweater and smile politely for a distant relative any more than they have to. Now and then, it's better to stay home, put on pjs, make hot chocolate, and watch "Elf."

For many people, the holidays are a time of sadness. Overscheduling out of perceived obligation doesn't make it any easier to push through weeks of seemingly endless happiness. Its one thing to challenge yourself to stay social and connected as a positive distraction from the hurt; its another to overload on committments and not take care of your own emotional needs.

Hoping your holidays are spent just the way you want.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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