We are getting ready for our annual trek up to the great white north to celebrate the holidays with our families in Michigan.
When I was working my full time job, the holidays were always extremely stressful. I was part of a small company and since I always needed to travel for Christmas, my vacation request was a source of tension with my coworkers. I completely understood their frustration but I was between a rock and hard place.
The weeks leading up to our trip were always difficult and I hated the way I felt stressed during a time when I should be celebrating. It always manifested in the quality of my work, my relationships, and my attention to detail.
Last year, after we had been living in the tiny house for 6 months, we did something drastic. We went to Michigan for two months. It was nice to be close to friends and family, but I also felt disconnected and homesick. I didn't have the same kind of stress but I wasn't entirely happy either.
This year, we are leaving this coming Sunday and spending two weeks in Michigan to see friends and family for the winter holidays. I feel 100% stress free.
Making such a big change in lifestyle had really helped me manage my stress levels and has put things in perspective.
Here are just a few things I do now to reduce stress and enjoy the holidays.
1. Shop early and mail it directly. Our car is not big and we have to fit ourselves, our cat, and everything we need for two weeks away from home in it to travel. We realized quickly that we wouldn't be able to pack presents, too. As much as I would have liked to do local shopping, this year I bought online and had everything shipped to Matt's mom's apartment where we will be staying. In some ways it will be like two holidays because I get to open everyone's presents before I wrap them!
2. Make plans. Two weeks is not a long time and there are a lot of things we need to accomplish while we're there. I talked with friends and family to determine a schedule so I don't feel like we're pulled in too many different directions. It also helps for me to stick to my editorial calendar for my writing work so I don't get side tracked by other things.
3. Focus on the fun. While we are up in Michigan we are going to make cookies, go out with my best friend, see a favorite musician's annual Solstice concert, and Matt will go into the recording studio. We are going to spend time with our families. We may walk up to the nearest neighborhood bar a couple of times.
What are your holiday plans and how will you make them stress free and deliberate?