As I sit here with my daughter in the doctor’s office, I find myself thinking of all the things I need to get done at home. This was not a planned visit. Basketball season is here and we’re looking at broken finger. So I’m writing this while waiting for the x-ray results. Actually, it is quite timely since my plan was to write about stress during the holidays . . . and here it is the day after Thanksgiving. This is one of those unexpected interruptions that produces stress, especially during the holiday season.
The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas can weigh us down. They’re filled with all kinds of activities. Our calendar and to-do list grow and expand with school functions, Christmas parties, shopping, ordering and sending out Christmas cards, Christmas baking, decorating, family get-togethers, numerous athletic events, cleaning, more baking, sending out invites, planning, organizing, implementing, and the list goes on, and on, and on.
Am I alone in this? I don’t think so. Take a look at your own activities and to do lists. Can you feel your stress level rising, wondering how in the world you will survive and remain sane over the next few weeks? I know I sometimes do. I want to enjoy this season with my family, not rush around snapping at my family because I’m stressed. And stress tends to do bad things to our bodies, like headaches, depression, and higher blood pressure. It’s not healthy. I have found nine things that help me de-stress during the Holidays, and I thought I would share them with you.
Set limits –
You do not have to do everything, go to every function, or please everyone. Put up a limited amount of decorations, or none at all if you so choose. Choose your favorites and leave the rest in boxes. Decline holiday functions if it causes too much stress. And if you do not get your cards out, that is okay too.
Get outdoors –
Go for a walk and breathe in some fresh air, even for ten minutes. It will clear your mind and you’ll be refreshed and ready to tackle the next thing.
Find the humor –
Laughter is good medicine. It helps release tension and makes you feel better. Play a fun game with your family or watch your favorite comedy. Spend time with friends who make you smile and laugh.
Eat right –
The healthier you feed your body, the healthier you will be and the better able you will be to handle stressful situations. You’ll be less likely to get sick and you will feel better too. See my post on healthier holiday eating for ideas on how to balance holiday festivities and healthy eating.
Get your zzzz’s –
Lack of sleep seems to escalate stressful times. Without enough sleep we don’t operate as well physically, mentally, or emotionally. So get a good night’s sleep.
Ask for help. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Enlist the help of your spouse, children, or friends. As the saying goes: many hands make light work.
Plan ahead –
Look at your calendar and see what is on the horizon. Make a list for each day the evening before so you have an action plan in place before your feet hit the floor in the morning.
Take care of yourself and do not neglect your regular exercise routine. Exercise produces endorphins which help you feel better and handle stress better.
Daily quiet time/meditation –
This is the most important thing I do each day. Every morning I spend quiet time in prayer and the reading of God’s Word. It calms me and reminds me that I am not alone in the rush of daily life. I refocus and concentrate on what’s important, letting go of the stress of the holidays.
Don’t let stress rob you of the joy of Christmas. Take time for yourself, set limits, and engage others to help with the work load. You’ll feel better and enjoy each day more.
What do you do to help alleviate stress during the holidays? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!