Jill Hillhouse, RNCP, ROHP
The holiday season can be a time of joy, but it can also be a time of stress. Here are some simple ideas to get rid of that stress and enjoy the holidays.
The holiday season can be a time of comfort and joy, but it can also be a time of stress as we cope with overeating, overspending, traffic jams, holiday travel, office parties, and family dramas.
Here are some simple ideas to help you enjoy the holidays.
Incorporating traditions into your holiday can bring meaning to a season fraught with consumerism. Family bonds can be enriched by the traditions of parents and grandparents; however, trying to recreate a legendary feast or the perfect tree from your romanticized memories can result in emotional exhaustion and disappointment.
Hang on to one or two of your most significant traditions, and create some new ones with family and friends to celebrate connections of the present.
The Myth of the Perfect Gift
The perfect gift for that special someone may well be an illusion–sometimes it really is the thought that counts. Make a list (and check it twice) of the gifts you would like to give, set a budget, and stick to it. Homemade gifts and culinary treats can reflect a special relationship with the recipient.
Shop online to avoid crowds completely, or shop at off-peak hours. When you do need to brave the mall, wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and make frequent trips to the car to unload (store gifts in the trunk). If you didn’t drive, carry your items in a comfortable and secure backpack.
Ho Ho Hold the Stress
Trying to do everything yourself can create resentment and bitterness toward those closest to you. Delegate some tasks, and let go of perfectionism. Others may not do things the way you would, but they are sharing in the effort. If guests offer to bring something to your party, take them up on it.
When you receive invitations to holiday events, set your priorities, and attend only those you feel are most important. You can say no and still be a caring friend.
Take Care of Yourself
Allow yourself to indulge in a holiday treat now and then. Balance the festivities by including protein and vegetables or fruit at every meal, and snack to keep your metabolism going and your blood sugar balanced. Try alternating plain or sparkling water with alcoholic beverages or eggnog.
Even though exercise may feel like the last thing you want to do, it’s a well-known stress buster. Instead of trying to fight for a parking spot close to the shops, choose to park in a less desirable but available spot a bit farther away, and get your exercise by walking a little more.
Set a regular bedtime to ensure optimal brain function and mood regulation–regardless of your beckoning to-do list.
Plan to Wait
There are two things you can count on this season: lineups and traffic jams. Simple strategies can help you cope.
Focused breathing can help move attention away from the things causing stress. If you have a free hand, place it on your stomach. Inhale deeply and feel your hand move outward as your lungs expand. Let your stomach fall back in as you exhale.
To maintain focus and prevent hyperventilating, count to three or four as you breathe in, hold for one count, and count again to three or four as you breathe out. Concentrate on the counting and breathing, not on how long the line is.
Essential oils can help many people deal with stress and anxiety. Keep handy a small bottle of the scent that calms you. When you need to relax, take a sniff, or massage some into your temples.
Everyone has different taste in music, but the right tune can keep your spirits high and the season bright.
Choose to be present in the moment. Smile at the people around you and remember the reason for the season.