I was listening to one of my favorite radio talk programs today. The topic of the hour was “do you feel burdened by Christmas?” Much to my amazement the host, and the majority of his guests, spent the better part of an hour whining and moaning about the burdensome nature of the holiday season. “I hate being with my relatives.” “Why do I have to spend all this money on presents for people I don’t like?” “There’s too much pressure!” “The traffic in the stores is ridiculous.” It went on and on and on!
Its a well known fact that people tend to be more depressed during the holiday season. It can be distressing if you live far away from your family. Some people actually become depressed because of the decrease in their exposure to sunlight during the winter months. However, what I heard today was different. People were just whining! They sounded like young children who were being forced to do their chores. Then, it hit me. Those people were suffering from PHLOP!
What is PHLOP (pronounced “flop”)? Pre-Holiday Lack of Planning! It is my own term for describing what causes successful people turn into grinches during the holiday season. Anyone who suffers from PHLOP will experience a range of symptoms that include: anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability, overeating (particularly of chocolate), anger, and irrationality. All of these symptoms cause them to miss out on the true joy that should be experienced during the holiday season.
People who suffer from PHLOP get their first dose of anxiety when they begin to consider the enormous list of things to do between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. There are cards to be sent, gifts to be bought and wrapped, parties to be planned, activities to be enjoyed, and thank you notes to be written. It’s enough to give a person indigestion! Then, add all of the subtasks (e.g., everything that is involved in planning a party) to the list. By then, that person has a major case of indigestion and the beginning symptoms of a migraine. Of course, the only reason that the person experiences anxiety is because he or she is not organized.
Do you suffer from PHLOP? It’s not too late to change things – even for this holiday season! Consider the consequences of not planning out how you will get everything done before January 31. Your tasks will get done at the last minute. They will not be done well. Worst of all, you may not finish them at all! Let’s face it, there is nothing worse than looking at a stack of holidays cards that were signed, sealed, and addressed, but just didn’t make it to the post office. If you would like some help organizing your holiday schedule for this and future Christmas seasons, you should get a copy UnCommon Courtesy & Coaching’s PHLOP busting holiday organizer by visiting our Christmas Corner at: http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com/holidayplanner.htm .
Let me also take a moment to suggest some things that will help you to enjoy this holiday season. First, consider making some of your gifts. People generally think about making gifts only when they are very young, super organized, or short on cash. You need not begin crocheting purses for your friends in August in order to make presents. Think about baking a few batches of bar cookies and then dividing them up onto colorful Christmas plates. Wrap them in cellophane and tie them with colorful ribbon. It’s easy, cheap, and all your friends will love it. After all, have you ever had anyone tell you that they did not like a plate full of cookies? How about buying a number of inexpensive items and putting them in a basket. The presentation will impress the heck out of the recipient. Whatever you decide to make, constructing the gift yourself will make it more meaningful to both you and the person who receives it.
Another suggestion to make your holiday bright and joyous is to act like a kid. Often people will suggest that you view the holidays “through the eyes of a child.” To that I say: “you are missing half of the fun.” Yes, it is a good idea to view things as if you were a child, but remember that actions are just as important as thoughts. For example, consider all those holiday television shows and videos you loved to watch as a child. Somehow, you have not found the time to watch them for years. Well, this is the year to start that tradition once again. If you can, watch them with a child. However, it doesn’t matter if a child is watching the program with you. The important thing is to remember to be child-like. How will you ensure that you take on a juvenile persona for the evening? Stock up on all those fun things that a child likes to have available while watching a video. For example, you should dress in your most comfortable pajamas, grab a cup of cocoa, and fill up a bowl with popcorn. Then, settle into your most comfortable chair with all the goodies and enjoy watching Snoopy decorate his dog house. Now, apply that same principle to all of your holiday related activities. It’s all those little extras that will really add joy to the Christmas season.
I realize that there may be some readers who feel that they should have begun their holiday planning and organization months ago. To those people I say: “now is the time to be industrious!” For example, shopping that has been delayed to the last minute can be remedied in several ways. Try going to the mall at the very beginning or end of the shopping day. Consider purchasing an unusual gift that can be found somewhere other than a mall. For goodness sake, do your shopping online! No matter how chaotic and stressful it seems, this holiday season should serve as a life lesson. Make notes for yourself about what went well, what could have been done better, and what was an absolute disaster. Then, form an action plan for next year. It’s never too soon to get organized!
The bottom line is: this is the season to be jolly, make merry, and recall the joy that can fill your life. The holiday season is the time to be child-like. It is a time to overlook life’s little irritations and be grateful for all the wonderful aspects of what has been given to you. I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, and a joyous time no matter what holiday you will be celebrating in the upcoming weeks!
© 1998 – 2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
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© 1998 – 2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
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