young at heart

Do you suffer from “holidread” – the anxiety and stress that can accompany the winter holiday season?

If yes, you are not alone. According to a 2015 Healthline survey, “festive stress” is real and affects approximately 62 percent of the population with 18 percent reporting that holidays are “very stressful.” In addition, the American Psychological Society reports that women are especially susceptible to holiday-related stress because they generally bear the burden of the extra chores associated with holiday celebrations: shopping, decorating, cooking and cleaning.

In the same Healthline survey, money tops the list of stressors at 47 percent, followed by overindulgence and the pressure to select the “right” gift at 16 and 15 percent, respectively. Other holiday stress inducers include:

  • Compressed work deadlines as offices prepare for holiday closings;
  • An abundance of invitations and pressure to do it all;
  • Expensive travel and the associated frustrations, such as crowds and delays, that accompany some of the year’s busiest travel days;
  • Splitting time between families and/or familial demands;
  • Commercialism and gift-giving expectations;
  • Getting ready for guests, hosting guests and/or being a guest in someone’s home;
  • Nostalgic (and unrealistic) expectations of perfection and/or holiday “joy;”
  • Having to work during one of the busiest times of the year, especially for retail and/or food service employees; and
  • Not having friends and/or family with whom to celebrate.

If that is enough to make you want a holiday from the holidays, how does one cope?

There are endless lists available online with advice on how to have a stress free holiday season. Said advice ranges from setting a budget for gift giving to prioritizing invitations and from maintaining a healthy diet to choosing to have a positive attitude.

I offer an alternative solution – choose to focus less on the apparently dreaded holiday season and instead celebrate smallidays!

Smallidays? I am defining smallidays as small, unexpected, random celebrations.

A smalliday can be any number of things — it could be surprising your significant other with a fancy dinner on a Tuesday, making time to take a 20-minute walk in a park you love, or baking cookies for your work colleagues or neighbors just because.

Need more inspiration? Here are my suggestions on how to celebrate smallidays year round.

Get Carded

This suggestion is two-fold:

1. Randomly send a friend one of those “just for fun” cards. After all, they exist for some reason.

2. Thank 52 different individuals by writing a thank you note each week for a year. These can be brief – one meaningful sentence is fine. Extra points for hand-delivering the notes.

Make Food Fun

Pick a food holiday to celebrate each week and/or month. There is one for pretty much everything – National Croissant Day (1/30), National Cereal Day (3/7), National Sushi Day (6/18), National Watermelon Day (8/3), National Taco Day (10/4), National Pickle Day (11/14) and more – so, you should have plenty from which to choose. Use it as an excuse to try a new food, new recipe and/or new restaurant, or to throw an impromptu potluck.

Spread Good Cheer

Make a point to tell a supervisor about a great employee, compliment someone, write a review about a product and/or company that you love, share a positive message on social media, and/or hide a love note for your significant other.

Pay It Forward

Pay for a stranger’s food at a restaurant or buy the person behind you coffee at a coffee shop, plant a tree, do a task for your partner that they hate doing, and/or gift a favorite book to friend.

Be a Good Gifter

Surprise a friend or family member with a donation in their name to a favorite cause or charity for no occasion at all. Give of your time by volunteering at an animal shelter, senior center, etc. or by participating in a charity event and/or clean-up day. Send a care package to a service member or flowers to someone who had a meaningful impact on you.

Stop and Listen

Learn something new about a coworker by talking over coffee and/or an adult beverage. Text someone “good morning,” “good night,” or a funny message. Call your mother and ask about her day and/or spend 15 minutes really listening to someone.

Practice Self Care

Get a massage, try something new or revisit an old favorite, laugh, eat chocolate!

Happy smallidays!

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Considers life to be one big anthropological field experience. She observes and reports. She enjoys travel, food and wine and adventures with her husband, Roger.

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