With the holidays just around the corner, families and friends will come together from all over the country to celebrate the joys of the season.
Decorating the house, cooking meals and gathering gifts for everyone may sound like Christmas spirit, but with this season comes a lot of added stressors. With worries such as dealing with the in-laws, anxious and energetic kids racing around the house and crazy holiday party expectations, it is easy to feel not so wonderful at this most wonderful time of the year.
From quick stress-survival strategies to mood-brightening foods, here’s your cheat sheet to holiday cheer.
For many, the best part of the holidays is the food that comes with it. From the cupcakes and cookies, to the home-made pies and juicy turkey, everything just seems too appetizing to refuse. And sometimes saying “No” to a delicious lunch or dinner may not sit well with the relatives who spent all day cooking it. The easiest solution is to be careful of your calorie intake before the holidays in preparation for the additional meals. Keep it healthy and simple so that you don’t feel as bad filling up on those Thanksgiving desserts.
Walk Away From Worries
The rhythm and repetition of walking has a rather tranquilizing effect on the brain, it decreases anxiety and can improve sleep. If the weather permits, aim for a brisk walk every day. Something as short as a half-hour can work wonders on your mood.
Dealing with Relatives
One of the downsides to the holiday season may be dealing with those “once a year” relatives. Whether it is disapproving grandma or the over the top aunt, meeting in laws and additional family members can put a strain on us and our relationships. Be sure to discuss any problems with your partner before the family arrives, to generate more positive vibes. Try to let their criticism go, and put it behind you for the short time you need to spend with them. If it helps, write down your worries in a journal to get them out of your system. Then listen to some calming music or do some yoga after a mentally taxing day.
Gratitude usually takes center spotlight in November with Thanksgiving, but its light often starts to dim during the December holidays when stress and hectivity take over.
This year, don’t let this be the case. Choose to keep gratitude in the limelight all season long. You’ll find it a lot easier to stay calm. For one, gratitude is good for your mind. It helps you focus on what you have, rather than what you don’t. If you can, start each day in December by thinking of something you’re grateful for and share it with the rest of the family.
During the holidays, we tend to go overboard to please others. From shopping, cooking, sending cards and attending each and every event, the hyperactivity is actually causing more stress than enjoyment. This year, take care of yourself by cutting down. Prioritize which family members to send cards to, choose a select few holiday parties to attend and only volunteer to cook once. By saying no, you will leave more time for yourself to enjoy all the holiday season has to offer.
Stop obsessing over “doing it all”. Understand that the world is not going to end if the house is slightly cluttered or dinner is on the table a few minutes late. Instead of worrying about everything, focus your energy on enjoying the company of those around you. Don’t sweat the small stuff and you will find your holidays to be much more enjoyable. After all, your family won’t remember that your house was a bit cluttered, all they will remember is the extra time you spent together.
Finding the Perfect Gift
Gift shopping is often a task people dread. To buy something for a family member, you must be aware of their recent likes and dislikes. While you want the gift to be something they will love, it must also be cost-effective. Just thinking about this ordeal can give most people a headache. The best solution is to be upfront and ask people directly what they would like, or ask those closest to them. Make a list of those to buy presents for and budget accordingly. Online shopping can potentially save time and money, just be sure to start early.
Whatever holidays you celebrate and however you celebrate them, do your best to stay positive and to stay present. Doing so will not only make the season more enjoyable for you on a day-to-day basis, but it will also help you create a lasting sense of calm that you can come back to when things are getting particularly stressful. As the holiday season kicks off, I hope yours is filled with calm, peace, and love.