It is easy to become overwhelmed during the holidays what with parties, baking, travel, presents to purchase, wrap and organize, decorating and the hundred other things we think need doing before and after the season. The merriment of Christmas can easily become a shadow of the joyful time we anticipated due to stress.
Stress seldom affects just one. Not because it belongs to more than the individual, but because it skews the individual’s outlook and response to bleed over into every interaction throughout the day, including the interactions we have with our animal companions. When we are stressed our companions cannot help but feel the same.
In order to avoid taking out our frustration on the innocent and maintain some semblance of our own sanity a few items need to be removed from the to-do list and maybe a few added. It sounds crazy but it works when we begin to consider what it is we want out of Christmas (I’m going to guess it is the ‘merry’ part).
Look at your list and choose to do the projects that put a smile on your face. Maybe it’s decorating. A home well-dressed is what makes the holidays sing for you. Great. Then spend time with that. But you must then remove something else, perhaps an item from the baking list. Does a cookie box really need six kinds of cookies when three will send the same message? This is called the trade-off game and I play it in my closet all the time- one new shirt in, one old shirt out. Trim the fat from the list by simply saying no to the chores that have a sense of obligation rather than happiness. If you send a gift to so-and-so out of obligation, a sense of ‘I should’, well it’s not really a gift is it? Too many places to go? Remove just one, free up some time to breath and be with the ones you want to be with during this season.
A seemingly endless number of projects need to be addressed during the holidays but the key is to thin it a bit working only the ones that make you smile inside.
As mentioned earlier our dogs, cats and other companions feel the same stress of the holidays that we do (for different reasons) and this is where we might like to add one or two things that benefit both parties. Remember how we reduced six batches of cookies to three? We can take the time for one of those batches and use it instead to give a wonderful fifteen minute massage with our dog or cat and still bank some time in reserve. Empty our mind and take a mini vacation with Spot right there on the living room carpet, maybe add a glass of wine as a finale. Another alternative is to use the time we saved removing a place to be from the list with an extra-long walk on a fine winter day. Exercise is a good stress reducer. They relax and we relax if we are ‘present’ when with them . We have not only banked more time in our holiday vault, but have benefited by lightening our spirits, because who doesn’t get a blast of loveliness by being with their dog or cat? It doesn’t really matter what it is we decide to do with our animal companions, it is more to the point of the doing so both parties can experience joy throughout the holiday season. It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture…there is enough of that in the commercial aspects of the holiday…curl up on the couch with your best friend, grab a plate of those cookies and some treats for your lap-warmer and pop a movie in. Maybe it’s time for another glass of wine.
When we can step out of the fast paced, project driven holiday for even a short amount of time, we discover that in the end we become more productive. That is a proven fact, for those who need such things in statistical numbers. Decisions are easier, we have better perspective and find creative answers to issues. More importantly, we are enjoying our lives today and sometimes that is all we get. Share it with the ones you love.
Keep the Merry in Christmas.