Now is the time of year when there is a dizzying array of demands – shopping, baking, attending parties and programs, end-of-year reporting– and add that to our regular daily tasks of work duties, kid activities or helping care for aging parents and you have just sent a nice invitation to an unwanted guest = STRESS.
When not managed well, it can lead to a laundry list of health problems and will leave you missing the mark on the true meaning of the holiday.
Well, I can tell you that stress is not welcome in my home this holiday season.
Holiday stress is a different beast compared to stress that occurs during other times of the year because there is added pressure to execute that perfect holiday.
I find that my good intentions often get kidnapped by commercialism and hype, and that finding a “special” gift turns into a manhunt and a race-against-time for finding the “perfect” gift. It is my duty as a mom and wife to make the holiday the very best I can for my family.
When my 7-year-old daughter asks me, “Why are we the only house in the neighborhood without lights on the roof?” I have to remember that she lives in a virtually stress-free world and the most important things to her this holiday are: how many cool crafts she can make her brothers, how full we can stack the tree with ornaments, and how blingy we can make our house look.
Well, we ain’t no Griswalds, but I managed to throw a few lights on some sprigs of evergreen outside of our front door and it was graciously accepted with bright eyes, giggles and handclapping. See ya later stress.
Here are some great tips that might help keep your stress “in-check” over the next couple of weeks:
Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. This will put a strain on your pocketbook and leave you with financial stress that may last long after the holidays are over. Stick to your budget.
Don’t abandon your healthy habits just because you need to fit in shopping or attend a party here and there. Stick to your routine-now more than ever. I ramp up my exercise on my lunch and/or at night when I can so I can be fully present at all the fun events going on this month.
Plan ahead. Set aside specific times for getting all of the holiday hoopla done. Be sure to plan your meals and then make a shopping list. This will prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And don’t forget to recruit help in the party prep and cleanup arena. This is a great time to get kids involved in holiday chores.
Be realistic about the holiday. It may not turn out picture perfect or be exactly the same as last year. As families grow and change, so do traditions and rituals. Hold on to a few if you can, but be open to creating new ones.
Reach out. Emotions run high during the holidays but it is not always a time that will bring “tidings of great joy” to everyone out there. In fact, it is often a time of loneliness and isolation for many. If you are feeling alone or know someone who is, seek out community, religious or other social events or help that person link up with one of those resources.
Take a breather. Allow yourself just 15 minutes alone-without-distractions-to clear your mind, slow your breathing and restore that inner calm.
Say no. You don’t need to be the Wonder Woman or Superman of the holiday-there is no such superhero; let’s not try to create one. Only you know what you can handle. Pay attention to your instincts and if you feel like you are getting overwhelmed, respectfully decline that party invite.
Enjoy your holiday season by keeping your stress in check and hold on to the real reason for the season.