Holiday stress can accumulate like presents under a Christmas tree. Even when we work hard and shop smart we still find ourselves crunched for time and stressed to find the "right" gifts before Christmas. And the thought of shopping through the herds of people and wait in lines for hours just doesn't seem too merry. On top of that, you're hosting Christmas this year and you know what that means...cleaning, cooking, more cooking, more cleaning and at least a full day with the in-laws (eeeek!).
Tis the season they say. But, instead of feeling all jolly, you're out of energy, worn down to your last nerve and filled with daily anxiety. As we splurge on gifts for the ones we love, in the back of our mind we are dreading that next credit card statement. Even if you were lucky enough to land some black Friday deals there is still much too do.
Just the thought of all of these obligation may have you asking, "where's the joy in that?" The holidays are meant to be special, gratifying and memorable. So if you're committed to making this season meaningful then you'll need ways to shake off the stress (inspired by Taylor Swift). Here's a few tips to enjoy a peaceful, joyful and happy holidays.
GIVING The simplest acts of generosity alone are stress busters. You might think giving more of your time, money and energy to others would increase stress, however there are several studies that prove giving is good for your health. Research has shown that when you give it can improve mental well-being by decreasing stress, anxiety and depression. Here are a few ways you can give this holiday:
- Homemade gifts/Handwritten cards- you don't have to go to great lengths in order to touch another's heart. Personalized gifts are often the most memorable.
- Donate- charitable giving has been shown to bring people more happiness than any other type of giving. You choose the charity or organization you care for most and it's a win-win.
- Adopt a family- many don't have the opportunity to experience the joy of the season. It's hard to find something more humbling than supplying gifts or donating Christmas dinner for a family.
- Spontaneity- surprise a stranger by paying their cab, tab or buying them a cup of coffee. Or, help a friend with housework, child care or running errands. You're unplanned generosity can easily be a happiness amplifier.
CONNECTING Spending time with the ones you love is the top priority for the holidays. Instead of all the aesthetics if you can focus on what's most important you'll feel the stress just melt away. Here are a few ways to connect more and stress less:
- Plan together- hosting Christmas is a great way to connect with family, but don't shoulder all the load & expectations (now that's stressful). Never hosted? Ask for help (Grandma's are the best mentors). Ask extended family to bring side dishes, games and their favorite movies, and have the immediate family help with groceries and decorating the house. This not only relieves stress, but can build a deeper family bond.
- Work together- connecting with friends for gift shopping, wrapping and decorating can keep you connected and energized while knocking off those holiday to-dos.
- Play together- I mentioned family games and movies, but also enjoying other traditions like caroling, sledding or ice skating are great ways to keep stress on the wraps. These help to infuse your holidays with memorable stories, laughter, interaction and friendly competition.
REFLECTING Taking care of yourself cannot be forgotten during the busy season and regardless of your schedule it's always important to stay rested, hydrated, and nourished while keeping your peace of mind. Try these to remain happy and calm:
- Meditation- you're going to need sleep, focus and patience during the chaos and craziness of the holidays and meditation is the key to eliminating many of the stressors this time of year so you can.
- Nourishment ninja- set and honor a plan that pleases and serves you. You can still fulfill your taste buds without overindulging and being swayed by social expectations. Use a pre-planned, "no-thank you", excuse to minimize the temptations and traditions.
- Workout pancakes- don't waffle on your decision to workout. Utilize your workouts to offset certain indulgences and keep yourself energized and confident. Pancake parties and heavy eating days between workout days. Mix heavy resistance training, sprinting and yoga to keep the mind and body primed.
- Unplug- put away the electronics...no TV, cell phone, tablets, laptops, etc. My favorite is turning off all the lights except the Christmas tree lights, grab a warm cup of tea or cocoa, wrap up in some warm blankets and relax in the dark (occasionally I'd listen to light X-mas music). The goal is to create a quiet, peaceful and calming place for you to relax.
There you have it...your guide to holiday season sanity. Steer clear of holiday stress with these tips and you're bound to rediscover the true meaning of the holidays.
P.S. Share the gift of giving by inviting a friend, colleague or family member to join the Wake Up with Fire community.