Give Yourself a Break for the Holidays

The holiday season can be so joyous and yet produce some real (but unnecessary) stress. Don’t let your holidays be ruined by nerve-racking experiences. Here’s some inspirational insights to help you keep your stress to a minimum this year.

Ask yourself if your expectations are realistic. Are you going to be getting together with family members that you normally prefer not to be around? Do you feel obligated to buy gifts for people who you aren’t really close to? Do you get invited to events that just don’t appeal to you but you feel obligated to go?  Believe it or not, these types of scenarios take place every year for millions of people. Why? Because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings so we sacrifice our own and then become resentful. If you want to stop that cycle, then just think carefully before you decide what to do. If it’s a NO that you decide upon, say it as politely as possible but make it very clear that your answer is a firm NO. If it’s a yes, then realize you committed yourself and see it through (hopefully in a very enjoyable way).

Are you scheduling too much in too little amount of time? No one has more than 24 hours in a day. Try to remember that as you plan your pre-holiday events and accept invitations. Enlist the use of a calendar or day planner, either paper or electronic, so that you can feel some measure of control over your time. And don’t feel bad if you’ve overlapped something by mistake. Just inform the parties involved and they will understand. We all make mistakes, especially at this hectic time of year.

Do you have a holiday budget or are you over-spending? Over-spending can be the biggest source of stress because we know what will happen … we have to pay for those items sometime. If not now, then later. Just the dread of getting the credit card bills in the mail is enough to keep you from having a good time during the holidays. Stick to a budget. You’ll be so glad you did come January when all the lustre and shine of the holidays has disappeared.

Sometimes our holiday stress comes from missing loved ones. If someone you love has passed on, change things up this year so that you can make it through this rough patch. There are lots of support groups with people going through the same kind of grief at the holidays. Tap into that for some healthy and supportive ways to cope. Last year at Christmas I just let myself “be” because my brother died in September. So I was pretty easy on myself and so were others around me. Of course I missed him, but attending a grief support group was a lifeline for me.

The holidays can be the worst time of the year for us in terms of taking care of ourselves. My advice is to make sure you’re eating healthy meals and drinking plenty of water. Dehydration (yes, even though it’s not warm outside) can sneak up on you before you know it. And water supports every organ in your body. And if you plan on doing some holiday drinking, be sure to increase your water intake. And I sure don’t want to take the fun out of those holiday parties. It’s just that all those high-fat, high-sugar, high-calorie foods can wreak havoc on your system. When you increase your water intake, it dilutes the sugar concentration and that’s good for your system in all ways.

This may sound crazy because of all the running around we’re doing at this time of year, but exercising is really important. Take a walk out in nature, ride a bike, do yoga, etc. Any form of exercise can be a phenomenal stress reducer. Also good for lowering blood pressure, which could rise when crazy Aunt Mildred walks through your front door on Christmas Day.

One of the best things about the holidays is that more people open their hearts to acceptance and forgiveness. If there’s someone in your life that you will be around this year that this applies to, give it a try. Even if it’s a silent blessing from your heart to theirs. After all, the season really is about love.

The holidays are supposed to be a great time. Take good care of yourself and practice things that will eliminate some of the stress. I hope these tips help you.

The most important tip of all is to just breathe. In through the nose; out through the mouth. Long, slow breaths will do the trick.

Merry Christmas!



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