If you turn on the television anytime after Thanksgiving, the odds are you’ll be bombarded with a barrage of Christmas related commercials and holiday specials, aglow with images of friends and family feasting on a lavish dinner, or adorable children tearing into perfectly wrapped presents, faces all merry and bright!
Yet, holiday season reality is often anything but heartwarming! Every year you just try to make it through Thanksgiving to New Year's Day unscathed, as you navigate a trecherous minefield of uncomfortable family dynamics, unwanted presents, the cat knocking down the tree, one too many cocktails at the office holiday party, that awkward moment when a colleague bought you a gift and you don’t have one for them, and the panic-stricken last minute shopping to remedy this faux pas!
As such, the most wonderful time of the year easily ranks as the one of the most stressful for many of us. Here are some tips for making the holiday season a little less crazy and a time of good cheer!
A lot of people over-commit during the holiday season, hoping to please everyone in a attempt to make the holiday season a magical one. Instead of rushing around trying to make everything perfect, decrease your load and enjoy the fewer commitments you make.
Put things into perspective by paying attention to the good things in your life and give thanks that your basic needs are met, and that you are able to spend time with loved ones, and so on. The more you ponder these things, the more fortunate you will feel!
The more you are in the moment, the less you are caught up in your mind, worrying about all the things you still have to do or haven’t done yet. Be aware of when you are becoming anxious, pause, and take some deep, purposeful breaths. You will enjoy the time much more.
Make a commitment to get some regular exercise for some much needed stress relief! This can be as simple as taking daily walks. Take the dog out to the park, or if the weather is unfavorable, try mall walking, getting there early before hoards of shoppers descend on the place! If you have a gym membership, don’t let your monthly due go to waste, and commit to working out 3 times a week.
Get some sleep
With holiday parties often going on into the week hours, all the celebrating can often disrupt regular sleep patterns. Ensure that you get enough sleep by going to bed at the same time every night. Also, stay away from the booze, heavy meals and sugary treats before bedtime as they can disturb your sleep.
Eat your greens
Overeating and the holiday season seem to be inextricably linked, with an abundance of the traditional rich foods and sweet treats readily available. When you are faced with temptation, load up on vegetables and salads. This will help to fill you up and reduce your desire to eat the junk. A small taste of your holiday favorites should then be enough to satisfy your taste buds!
Eat, drink, and be moderate
If you are going to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Same goes for desserts, cakes, pies, cookies and sweets! Also, avoid mindlessly grazing on unhealthy snacks by not having them sitting in view on the counter.
Rather than face the frenzied holiday crowds again this year, spend a few hours doing your Christmas shopping online. If you are creative, make gifts personal by making them yourself. Get the kids involved and have some crafty fun, or bake a batch of Christmas cookies. The holidays aren't about spending lots of money to show someone that you care!
Ditch the perfectionism
Don’t sweat it if your home isn’t like those depicted on Christmas cards! Sometimes a messy house is a happier house! Don’t sacrifice time spent with family or friends in favor of picking up the house. If you are tired, go to bed. The dishes can wait until tomorrow!
Create 'you' time
’Tis the season to be overwhelmed and overbooked! Instead, schedule down time, such as a mani-pedi, yoga class, a movie, a nap, or an hour to read a few chapters of a book you've been meaning to finish (or start). There are no awards for "most tasks completed," but there are big rewards for catching your breath with mini-breaks--even during the holidays! Remember, self-care is never a waste of time!
Make a list, and check it twice
Allowing holiday spending to spin out of control only adds to the stress of the season. Write a list of what you need, and set (and stick to!) a budget for each.
Be of service
Studies show that helping others enhances our mood and overall well-being. Make a difference in your community by volunteering at a local shelter, nursing home or hospital. Or donate a toy to a toy drive, or coats for the homeless. The intangible benefits alone, such as satisfaction and accomplishment, are always worthwhile reasons to serve!
Remember what matters
How would you define a happy holiday season? Probably for most of us, it’s all about spending quality time with loved ones. As such, periodically ask yourself whether you’re accomplishing that goal, and make adjustment where needed. When you are making memories with the people that matter to you most, you aren’t so likely to get distraught by the turkey being burnt!