13 Steps To Reducing* Your Holiday Stress
The holidays can be a whirlwind of activity- family gatherings, parties, presents, decorations, baking, entertaining, office parties, and gifts, lots and lots of gifts. It’s easy to lose* yourself in all of the activity as you take on more than you have time to do.
Stress often gets much more intense in the season of holiday joy and good will.
Planning now around the holiday triggers for stress will make for a much more enjoyable season. The key is to plan now to minimize the stress level as much as possible.
These are some of the pitfalls of the season, with suggestions to minimize the stress.
1. Doing Too Much
Pace yourself and only say yes to the things that you really want to do. Concentrate on what is truly important to create fun family and friend traditions.
Learn to say NO to things that you truly don’t want to do. Make sure you save time for yourself for self-care. To be your most loving self, you must fill your cup first and then you will have plenty to give out to everyone else that you love. (See suggestions for self-care below)
2. Spending Too Much
Create a budget now and then stick to it. Remember that gifts are from the heart and not from your pocketbook. Don’t overextend your budget, which inevitably creates stress. Ask people what they want, so that you aren’t shooting in the dark.
Remember, it’s not how much you spend but instead is how special your gift is for each person. It could even be homemade. You can always start a family gift exchange.
Making an evening fun doesn’t mean breaking the bank. Make sure you don’t give into unrealistic expectations.
3. Be Generous In Ways That Don’t Cost Money But That Do Bring Joy
- Give more compliments
- Help out with dinner
- Run an errand for a loved one
- Relieve someone you love and do a chore for them
- Write a funny poem, or make a funny card
- Buy a silly inexpensive gift
4. Eating The Wrong Foods, Eating Too Much
Plan out your holiday eating now. With a little bit of planning, you can stay true to healthy eating guidelines.
Learn to take recipes and trade out the ingredients that are not good for you or for your family. As an example, use almond flour instead of wheat flour; trade ghee for butter or margarine, use maple syrup or honey in place of sugar and cut it in 1/2.
Make mashed “potatoes” out of cauliflower, make brown rice instead of white rice (or make cauliflower rice in a variety of different flavors), use sustainable meats that are grass fed or wild caught, and limit the amount of your protein to the size of a deck of cards.
Before eating out at a restaurant, as a guest in someone’s home, or at a party, have a healthy snack before you go. This way you can nibble, and not over eat, and you are more likely to make good food choices with the food that you do eat.
When going to someone else’s house for dinner, offer to bring a dish that will provide you and your family with protein and veggies that will sustain you using all healthy ingredients, so that you can get small quantities of items offered that are not good for you.
I have given my family and friends Paleo cookbooks so that they know the food I can eat upfront. They love me and want me to enjoy their cooking as well.
When going out to dinner, call the restaurant ahead of time to negotiate what healthy item you are going to eat that night.
Remember the holidays are about community. You don’t need to eat anything you don’t think is healthy, and you don’t need to eat more that you usually would. You are there to enjoy your loving family and/or friends.
5. Drinking Too Much
Keeping your alcohol intake under control* is important on so many levels. A glass of wine or a cocktail is fine to relax you, but more than that will create a series of problems through the evening.
You want to remain true to yourself and your normal behavior, and you want to stay safe behind the wheel. It’s much healthier to limit your alcohol intake. I used to have one drink and then switch to seltzer water with a drop of Roses lime.
Refreshing, and no one knows you aren’t drinking.
6. Too Much Family
It’s wonderful to spend time with the family during the holidays. It is the season of love. But, make sure that you protect* your alone time too to replenish.
Family gatherings often place roles on people of who they “used” to be, instead of who they “are” now. If that happens, pull the family member doing that aside and let them know what your limits are, as the person you are today.
7. Too Little Family
If you don’t have a family to share the holidays with, make sure you plan to get- together with your “extended” family, the friends that love and support* you. Depression is a pitfall of the holidays if you don’t seek out the close relationships in your life.
Surround yourself with loving people. Reach out to old friends and catch up by email or on the phone. Create your own loving community.
Volunteer for those who really need loving support*. Improve* your mood with sunlight by taking a walk when you get lonely.
Do a gratitude exercise every morning when you arise….and put at least 5 things on your list each day. Make sure you laugh often and smile. This will lift your mood.
8. Toxic Family Members
Set the scene that the holidays are for love and gratitude. Set parameters before the get-together, in a firm but loving way. Be firm when those parameters are ignored by pulling that family member aside and reiterating the rules in a firm but loving way.
I used to program a toxic family member before the get-together, but telling them, I knew that they loved me, and would want me to be happy therefore it was really important that they supported me at this point in time.
Remind them that the holidays are for love and gratitude and that all family members were expected to show that respect. Cut the obnoxious behavior off before it begins, and you will enjoy your holidays to a far greater degree.
9. Just Be You And Forget Perfection
You are wonderful the way you are. You are enough. Don’t try to be someone else to please someone else. Repeat to yourself every morning words from Sark, in her book “Succulent Wild Woman.” Touchstone; Slight Moisture Damage edition (May 2, 1997).
You are “ripe, succulent and juicy,” and filled with joy and love. Give yourself some love.
Do the Dr. Andrew Weil 4-7-8 breathing exercise twice a day minimum. It only takes 3 minutes. Repeat it as necessary when you feel stress coming on. This exercise resets your parasympathetic nervous system, and lowers your pulse and relaxes* you.
See the video from Dr. Weil’s website here.
Make sure you get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Your body will be more prepared for whatever may come, and you can approach it all with humor and love.
You are important, and this is your holiday too. Make sure that you pamper yourself through the holiday season. By taking time just for you, you are you are fully present when giving to others.
You must keep your cup full, to be able to give to everyone else. Some of my favorite ways to take care of me are:
- Take a Epsom salt bath with lavender
- Get up and stretch every hour for 1 minute
- Buy flowers for your favorite spots in your house
- Use a wonderful non-synthetic essential oil in a diffuser and fill the house with a fragrance that your body and emotions love.
- Take an herbal tea break in the afternoon
- Light candles
- Play classical music or light jazz
- Sit and enjoy your pets. Giving them love does you all good
- If you live some distance from your family, call them every week and tell them how much you love them.
- Learn to say no, unless YOU really want to do it
- If you are coping with fears, write them down and face them. Once these thoughts are on paper, they aren’t nearly as scary. Then burn the paper and let these thoughts dissolve into the universe by letting them go.
No matter how crazy the holiday season is, it is important to move. Whether you choose to take a break to go to the gym, or do yoga, or jump on your rebounder, or take a walk outdoors, movement is good for your body and your soul.