Holiday Stress Has Me Spinning

When my kids were little, convincing them to do things they didn’t like was a real challenge. I found that putting a positive spin on the situation usually did the trick, though.

When I needed them to hurry up in the morning, it wasn’t because we didn’t want to be late for school; it was because we wanted to be on time. At the park, instead of saying, “We have to leave in five minutes,” I’d say, “We can stay for five more minutes!” When they didn’t want to brush their teeth I told them, “That’s fine! Only brush the ones you want to keep!” Sneaky, huh?

This week I’ve had to employ the spin method of motivation a lot—on myself. We have company arriving in a couple of days and I wasn’t ready, unless I wanted to welcome them to a disaster zone instead of a home. In addition to the usual mountain of laundry, boxes of holiday decorations were all over the place. And I’d barely put a dent in my Christmas shopping list. Instead of feeling festive, I thought I was never going to accomplish everything.

Before I had a meltdown, I decided to spin my focus from negative to positive and managed to kick my holiday spirit in to high gear.

First I stopped thinking about how messy my house was and reflected on how beautiful it looks when it’s clean. That mental picture gave me a target goal to achieve. I tried to remind myself that I’m really good at organizing and decorating. I’d made the home look great before so I absolutely could do it again—and faster! That laundry never knew what hit it.

My holiday shopping list also needed some serious spin-doctoring. Like most Americans, I’m trying to stick to a budget this season. I could almost hear Ebenezer Scrooge’s voice in my head. Switching my focus from spending less to saving more made bargain shopping feel more like treasure hunting—which is a lot more fun.

The last spin I made has been especially helpful this week: I never seem to have enough time, especially around the holidays. The thought of standing in long lines at the mall and post office had me close to a panic attack. A quick spin put the brakes on my worries about running out of time and lead to a brainstorm of time-saving solutions instead.

In the end I decided to do the bulk of my shopping online and take advantage of free gift wrapping and shipping. I'm also leaving the cooking to the chef at the Four Seasons this year. That way I’ll spend less time in the kitchen and more time with my family—and that’s the best Christmas gift of all.

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