||Need help avoiding holiday stress? All of those classic holiday movies surrounding the “dysfunctional family” make us laugh because deep down we can often relate to the chaos that this season brings. Don’t let the holidays stress you out! Here are a few tips to help you de-stress:
- Just say no. It’s the easiest trick in the book. All of those little commitments will add up. You don’t have to do it all, so don’t! Rehearse some polite phrases to decline invitations this season (such as “Thank you, but I am unable to attend”), or take a smaller role. Commit only to the events that are less stressful and that you enjoy the most!
- Laugh. Laughter releases the “happy” endorphins in your brain and is an effective way to reduce stress immediately.
- Prioritize. Take some time before you get too far into the season to assess and prioritize your responsibilities. Make sure you continue to reassess regularly and stick to your goals.
- Stay Flexible. Make sure you are prepared, yet be realistic about last minute changes. They will happen.
- Delegate! Santa does! Have your family help with cleaning. Have a potluck meal where the whole family pitches in. There are lots of ways to share the tasks at hand.
- Limit the treats. When you get stressed you will likely crave sugar; but the more cookies you have in your system, the more stressed you get! When you are stressed and have low levels of serotonin, your brain produces cravings for sugar and simple carbohydrates, which make the beta-endorphin system want more! You’ll get stuck in a never-ending cycle!
- Sleep. Sleep is the body’s natural repair time! Depriving yourself of adequate sleep not only increases your cortisol (the stress hormone), but you won’t be at your best if you are sleepy and possibly grouchy.
- Stay positive. View life events as normal and allow your body to accept the situation for what it is instead of allowing yourself to get stressed over it.
- Don’t overindulge. This does not just apply to food and drink, it also applies to over-crowded shops, an over-booked calendar, over-committing and over-spending. Keep all of these things in check, spread them out and opt for a quiet evening at home instead of attending every holiday party you are invited to.
- Exercise! When you feel your blood pressure raising it is probably time to get your heart pumping by taking a brisk walk, a run on the treadmill or a spin on your stationary bike. Exercise is good for your body but it is excellent for clearing your mind and helping you gain a new perspective on a stressful situation.
- Don’t procrastinate! Make plans well ahead of time
- Ask others. Solicit input from others in regards to what they would like to do on the holiday
- Rotate houses for different holidays. Set up a schedule and have everyone in the family sign up. I.e. Christmas at Moms, 4th of July at Aunt Louise’s, Thanksgiving at our house, etc. If there is trouble deciding, place all of the holidays in a hat and have everyone draw randomly the first time, and then rotate every year.
- Pot-luck! Sharing the cooking during family get-togethers allows everyone to participate in the preparation and celebration.
- Plan activities. Go for a walk, play cards or a board game, plan a White Elephant gift exchange. If there are plenty of people, plan and adult exchange and a kid exchange.
- Block out time. Set a time for the gathering (4 – 8pm) and don’t extend the time. State the time of dinner and serve it at that time even if someone has not yet arrived.
- Take a time-out. Take a hot shower or hot bath. Let everyone else do the chores for a bit. Just like you are not home.
- Take a moment for some quiet meditation or prayer. Start with Breathe, see below.
- Breathe. Stop, sit down, close your eyes and take several slow, long, deep breaths in through your nose, exhaling slowly, and feel the stress flow out of you.
- Take a Power Nap. You’ll be amazed at what a quick 15 minute nap can do!