How to Reduce Holiday Stress
And Enjoy The Season
Things can get pretty hectic this time of year with special gatherings with family and friends, food preparation, holiday parties, Christmas concerts, sports practices, shopping for gifts and wrapping presents. But the holiday season doesn't have to be wrought with anxiety and stress.
There is a better way!
You can manage stress and enjoy all the fun-filled moments this season has to offer with the following tips:
Identify your feelings. The holidays can be an especially difficult time if you've lost a loved one or family relationships are strained. Take time to process how you are feeling - the good, the bad and the ugly. All of it.
Relax your expectations. Don't expect perfection from yourself or others. Be realistic. Give grace to yourself and those you love.
Plan activities in advance. Knowing when you're going to shop, cook, wrap presents and carol (or whatever activities you'll be doing) can make your day go more smoothly because you won't be rushing to get everything done at the last-minute.
Focus on gratitude. Taking time to be thankful for the good in our lives, takes the focus off the bad. You might consider keeping a gratitude journal. Expressing your gratitude to the people in your life earns you bonus points.
Practice saying NO. Many of us over commit and end up paying for it later when the responsibilities become overwhelming causing burnout and stress. Choose to take part only in the activities that are most important to you. Setting boundaries is a good thing!
Simplify your life. Sometimes we make things more complicated than they should be. For instance, if you're hosting Christmas dinner for your extended family consider preparing the meat or main dish and asking the other families to bring a side dish or dessert. Also, look at doing a gift exchange instead of buying for everyone in your family or friend group.
Set a budget and stick to it. Plan ahead for how much you want to spend on gifts. Write down your plan then carry it out. Remember, money (and presents) don't buy happiness. Consider making homemade gifts or donating to a charity in your loved one's name.
Make sleep a priority. Try to turn in early to catch some zzzs. Getting a good night's sleep makes all the difference. Here are 16 Quick Tips To Help You Sleep Better Tonight.
Make time to work out. Just do it. You'll thank yourself later. Plus, exercise is a great way to avoid holiday weight gain.
Eat healthful foods. Focus on eating whole foods and eliminating processed junk food as much as possible. Then when you attend a special event or dinner you can enjoy some tasty goodies without feeling guilty.
Keep the peace. Even if you have a score to settle with Cousin Johnny...or a bone to pick with Auntie May. And if you notice other people are moody this time of year, remember that they are likely feeling the impact of stress in their lives. Overlook these things and try to help others when you can to lessen their load.
Drink plenty of water, especially lemon water. Staying hydrated is a healthy choice that can help prevent headaches and even boost your immunity.
Practice deep breathing techniques. Doing yoga or taking a few deep cleansing breaths can be invigorating and help you de-stress. You might want to check out the Calm app. I have it on my phone and it's a great tool to help you relax and sleep better!
This article was originally posted on LoriGeurin.com
HOW to MANAGE the HOLIDAYS
A friend asked me, after losing her husband to a tragic accident, “How do you handle the holidays?” I lost my husband, David, with kidney cancer 11 years ago, so I can share things that have helped me, but each family and their traditions are unique. Understand that each holiday, birthday, and anniversary of any kind will be difficult for a while. Even though they get easier, there will always be some need for preparing ahead of time!
When the loss is new and grief has an unexplainable grip on you, you just have to handle what you can at the time. Explain to others when you really can’t deal with activities that are stressful. They may not understand, but hopefully they will be patient until those situations are a little easier. Explain your sadness and that emotions come and go, but you do not want them to be afraid to mention the person that is no longer there, because even though it’s hard, it is important in the process of healing.
Explain to family members how something affects you. If you are single, there will be many times that you feel like the “third wheel.” You need to understand that your anger, guilt, and jealousy can take over, so keep praying, know your limits, and watch out for that negative self-talk!
Prioritize and make a list of the activities that are most important to you and your family. If decorating and hosting parties is encouraging, then keep those traditions. In some cases, it’s better to let others take that stress off of you and begin some new traditions.
Planning ahead will decrease some stress. Consider shopping on-line, buying gift cards, letting others pick out presents, buying food that’s already prepared, making presents, drawing names so there are less to buy for, buying only for children in the family. As families change due to marriage, grand-children, divorces, loss due to death, recognize that your plans and expectations will need to change also.
There are situations that simply can’t be avoided, so pray up beforehand. You do not want your erratic emotions controlling you all the time, so PRAY before you have a difficult situation coming up and trust that God will be with you in those difficult times.
Communication is extremely important. Try to talk about and make decisions together so each person involved has some input and misunderstandings are less likely. Schedule as much as possible ahead of time so that extended family and friends are included.
All holidays are stressful because there are traditions and memories involved. After David passed away, one of the hardest times for me was our anniversary, so most of the time I plan a trip with my son, friends, or family. Sometimes holiday plans are so crazy it’s hard to get together on those particular days, so I plan or attend a party with other friends who may not have family around. As a family, we look for other ways to make new traditions, like celebrating Christmas at Thanksgiving or the week before or after Christmas. I am getting used to changes and try to be flexible because the larger the family, the more difficult it is to plan. I find myself juggling a lot of holidays between kids, parents, and friends. Birthdays are important to me, and I appreciate my kids for making those times special! Make healthy connections or join a small group at church for socialization and growth. My life group has gradually become my extended family, so we are creating many new memories, and I am thankful for each of them! Celebrate, laugh, and love whenever you get an opportunity!
So, how do we manage ALL of the holidays? We continually learn to plan, prioritize,
communicate, make new traditions, celebrate even the smallest events, and PRAY ahead!